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Is the Emergency Room the Best Place for an Ankle Sprain? San Francisco Ankle Expert Explains

Rushing down the Dipsea Trail, fog trailing lightly through the redwoods, Craig is out for his favorite run. But with one slight misstep, his foot lands in a hole and his ankle rolls out from under him.  By the time he feels his ankle give way, his arms are already out-stretched to brace for the fall. The trail is soft and nothing hurts but his ankle.  


Brushing off sand and eucalyptus leaves, he notices the ankle starting to swell.  Throbbing pain begins to build into a creshendo.  He gets up and slowly hobbles back to  the car.  By the time he reaches home in Mill Valley, he can barely walk.  He tries to figure out if he should head straight to the ER or call his family physician in Sausalito. 


Not wanting to bother his doctor with “just an ankle sprain” he heads to the ER in Marin. After a full half day of waiting he sees an emergency room doctor who says,  “your x-rays don’t show a broken ankle, but it looks like you have a bad sprain. The nurse is going to give you an ankle brace.  You should see an ankle expert if it doesn’t get better soon.”


A week later his ankle is still swollen, the foot and toes are black and blue and he can still hardly walk, let alone run.  To make matters worse, he gets a bill for almost$1,500 for the ankle x-rays and emergency room visit. He wonders if there is a better way and searches online for the best ankle treatments in the Bay Area.  


When he finally does sees the ankle doctor, he is told he has a subtle break in one of the bones in his ankle called a lateral process fracture.  It needs to be treated.  The doctor explains that there are several types of broken bones that often get missed and misdiagnosed in hospital emergency rooms.  Without the proper care, his ankle would just continue to ache. He realizes he just wasted over a thousand dollars and a week of his time with the ER visit. 


The unfortunate reality is that every single day, over 10,000 suspected sprained ankles show up in the ER.  While an emergency room may be the best place for someone with a heart attack, it isn’t the best place to get treatment for a sprained ankle. 


One study conducted at the University of Utah showed that certain x-ray finding suggest lateral process fractures of the ankle are more than ten times more common than once thought.  In addition, these fractures are often thought to be incorrectly diagnosed as just an ankle sprain.  You don't have to be a doctor to know that its not good to walk around on a broken ankle.


The current standard of care at emergency rooms is to take x-rays of the ankle to make sure there is no obvious fracture.  Then the ER doc sends the patient hobbling away with an ankle brace and instructions to see an ankle specialist like an orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist. 


The problem is that delayed treatment often leads to delayed recovery. The delayed recovery leads to continued ankle pain, and even unstable ankles that can degenerate into ankle arthritis.  


Today there are sports medicine doctors and ankle sprain experts who reserve spots in there schedules for ankle sprains every day.  These doctors treat ankle sprains like real emergencies.  While a rolled ankle may not be the sort of emergency that emergency rooms were designed for, an ankle sprain is an emergency to a runner.  Active people need strong pain-free ankles.  They need to find the best ankle sprain treatment in order to get rid of the swelling and get back to running pain free. 


If you have an ankle sprain, you can skip the emergency room wait just by searching for a local ankle sprain expert.  As long as you will need to see a specialist anyway, why not see the best ankle doc to begin with!  The true ankle experts are orthopedists and podiatrists.  Podiatrists only treat feet and ankles.  Because of this, they have the most specialized knowledge. 


If you sprained your ankle, you should see a true ankle specialist today.  Not only will you get the most thorough evaluation, you can also skip the 6 hour ER waiting time.  In addition, you can save a small fortune by avoiding the emergency room bill.  


Dr. Christopher Segler is a renowned ankle expert who believes that rapid expert treatment is the best treatment for a sprained ankle.  He conducted the largest study ever on subtle fractures of the ankle that are frequently misdiagnosed as ankle sprains.  He has won multiple awards from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the American Podiatric Medical Association for his research on foot and ankle injuries.  He provides same-day house calls in San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay.  If you have a question about an ankle sprain, you can reach him directly at 415-308-0833.


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