Ankle pain for almost 2 years now after a sprain

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I know only doctors can properly tell me what's wrong, but I'm hoping someone here might have some insight to what is wrong with my ankle.

Almost 2 years ago, in March 2014, I sprained my ankle pretty badly playing soccer. Went to the ER the next day (because people told me it was just a sprain and I needed rest. I went anyway because it felt like something was wrong, and I never go to doctors unless I need to). They made an x-ray, told me it wasn't broken, but probably badly sprained. Got a hard cast for 10 weeks. Afterwards, they put my in some kind of soft cast (because I'm allergic to tape), but told me I had to start walking without crutches. This was extremely painful still, and my foot was still swollen like a balloon and black and blue everywhere, but they didn't say anything about it at the hospital so I thought that it was normal. They told me it would take a month to get back to normal.

After 2 weeks I had to go back, but my ankle still felt stiff, was swollen and painful, so they sent me to get physical therapy. They then said it would take 2 months to get back to normal.

I had therapy, so stretching and exercises, for months. There they said I had also pulled/torn a tendon, and that's why I was still feeling pain. They told me it would take at least 6 months to get back to normal.

After half a year I went back to a specialist in the hospital and told him I still couldn't run, walking stairs and even in every day life, my ankle still hurt a lot, and still got swollen every day. He said a sprain that had been as bad as mine could take up to a year to heal, and that it was possible that it still got swollen and hurt, and that I shouldn't overthink it. He did tell me, that if I had gone to him in the first place, instead of to the ER (like I had a choice..) he would've put me in cast for longer. But, it wouldn't matter now, I would heal within a year.

After a year, I went back to him, still complaining about pain. I could walk, but longer walks would cause pain, and I still couldn't play soccer. And basically, my ankle hurt a lot. My mom once tried to give me a massage, and I couldn't walk for 4 days. He told me again that it could take a very long time, even longer than a year.

No scans or anything were made, because he didn't believe anything was wrong.

A few months back, so one and a half year after the injury, I went to see a special sports doctor in Belgium (I live in the Netherlands.) He used an ultrasound to look at the area of pain, and was surprised to hear I had only had one x-ray, and at the time it had happened. He told me my tendons and ligaments looked fine, but he saw some white stripes that apparently meant calcination (hope it's the right word). He said these things could easily be missed and they should've done another x-ray after a few weeks as well. He gave me a shot of something, and I had to come back after a few weeks. I did, and he stated the shot hadn't helped enough, so something was causing the swelling. I pointed him the area of pain, and he said I was pointing at the Fibula, the bone on the outside. So, he said I could've had a stress fracture, that wouldn't be visible on the first x-ray, but could be causing me pain because it hadn't healed, since I had to walk after only 10 days again. He suggested I go get an MRI.

So, back I went to the specialist. He of course, didn't believe a word the belgian doctor had said, but, "just to rule things out" he gave me permission to get an MRI.

I have to back tomorrow to get the results. Thing is, I don't believe I will get answers. He firmly believes it's nothing, and the pain I am feeling is just because the sprain of 2 years ago. So I don't think he'll look very hard to find out what could be wrong. And you see, it wouldn't be the first time they'd miss something on the MRI. I've had 2 injuries (one in my toe, the other in my knee) where they did MRI's, told me I was fine, and years of struggling and complaining later, they found out what was wrong (toe - recurring swelling, was taken care of with a few shots, knee - some loose thing they removed with surgery). So I'm very afraid they will once again look at the MRI, expecting nothing, maybe looking in the wrong place, missing it once again, and leaving me with yet another injury that has yet to be solved. 

Of course, when that happens, I will go back to the belgian doctor, but I have no idea 1. what's wrong with my ankle and why I still have this much pain, and 2. what I could do next. I'm just really worried, and the constant pain and not knowing what is wrong drives me nuts. 

Is there anyone that has any idea?

(Ps I was trying to add a picture of my ankle showing where exactly it hurt, but it won't upload it for some reason.)


1 like, 30 replies

30 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Jennifer !

    I doubt very much it was just a sprain. I would go to another doctor for an X-ray and ask for a orthopaedic surgeon to check the X-ray and speak to him about your problem. I'm wondering if in fact you broke a bone 2 years ago. Don't stop until you get some answers. Your GP should send you to an hospital for the X-ray and then the surgeon to get it checked out. Good luck !

  • Posted

    Update: just as I thought he would, the doctor said my MRI looked fine. Bone, muscle and tendons, everything was normal. Because I am still in pain, he said I could go to another doctor in the hospital, a doctor that, several years ago, fixed my knee. Hopefully he will know what is wrong, but I somehow doubt it. 

    I will indeed ask my GP to send me to another hospital to get an x-ray, and see what they say there. 

    • Posted

      Oh dear, that's not good. Yes try another doctor for an X-ray as something isn't right. Keep me posted.
  • Posted

    I too am struggling with the exact same issue you're having and its also been almost 2 years. Coincidence maybe? But I sprained mine Playing basketball and they only took an xray for me too once I injured it. I am having an appt next week and Plan on pushing for answers I hope we both get them!
    • Posted

      Sorry to hear, I know the feeling. Tell me what they will tell you though, perhaps you get some new information that I could share with my doctors as well! I indeed also hope we both are finally fixed. Two years is way too much time to heal a sprain in my opinion..
  • Posted

    Update 2: I once again wasn't given an x-ray, though I went to a different doctor. He did say something else.

    He talked about some ligament higher up my ankle, the one connecting the two bones in the lower leg. He said I might have damaged that ligament in the spraining too, and said it was inflamed. So he gave me a nasty cortisone injection, and said that would have to fix it. If it didn't work, I would have to come back after 6 weeks, and he'd probably give me another one. 

    It's been 2 weeks since the injection, and to be honest I don't feel much of a difference. The pain is a bit less, but that's maybe also because I don't sport yet (soccer training is not starting yet). I have heard though that it could take a while. Don't know. I just hope it works..

  • Posted

    Do they have a foot doctor also known as a podiatrist where you are at? I injured my ankle in 2009 and they said it was a bad sprain and also put me in a case and crutches and that did not help. No regular doctor believed me that it was painful but I'd be on my feet for 2 hours or less and be in tears from swelling and pain. Finally, i fought with my dr and she gave me a referral for a podiatrist, my first appointment with him he said "yep, you're peroneal tendon pops out when your ankle moves. It needs surgery" i have a very unstable ankle and have a lot of inversion in my feet so the surgery did not work but he reconstructed it, a year later i had a stabilization surgery and now this year on March 9th I'll be having another stabilization surgery ... it took so long for them to figure out the cause that i have a lot of damage from it so please dont stop til you have answers. I hope you feel better soon!

  • Posted

    I had similar symptoms with left ankle 5 years ago and had ruptured peroneal tendon. Now I have had pain in right ankle for over a year. I have very loose ligaments. After 2 injections I opted for ligament repair to tighten ankle. I'm currently 9 weeks post op.  Good luck. Mohammed my first injection helped good 6 months. 
  • Posted

    It's been a while and some things have happened, but FINALLY they know what is wrong.

    I've had an MRI which showed nothing apparently, and later another injection (which didn't help of course) and a bone scan.

    In the bone scan they could see a dark spot which told them something was up, and they called it shin splints. Of course that's just a name for all the things they can't really pinpoint, but hey.

    So I had to go back to my physical therapist. He read the letter from the bone scan guys and did some digging himself (and some poking). 

    Thing is, most people just have 2 tendons; the peronues longus and the brevis. Turns out that only a small percentage of the people also have a third, the tertius. It's most common in horses and other primates, but not humans. 

    But guess what, I have that tendon. And that's the one that's been giving me problems. So all the injections and braces and everything for the other 2 tendons didn't work, because it wasn't that tendon. And the doctor that told me "there's nothing there" was somewhat right too, because normally there isn't.

    Anyway, since they now know what problem it is (where the tendon is attached to my bone it's irritated or damaged), they hopefully can fix me.

    My therapist said he wanted to do some more digging into fixing this tendon, since he had never encountered it before, but he suggested shockwave therapy, and some physical therapy.

    Thanks everyone who wrote to me, it made me look harder and push doctors harder to find out what was wrong.

    (Ironically, I have been saying it could have been the tertius for over a year now, but doctors never believed me, because hey I'm just a 21-year old student of arts, what do I know right? Well apparently a lot more than them.)

    • Posted

      Interesting discussion as I have the same problem after an ankle sprain (twisting due to floor on two levels may 2015). I have had X-rays , mri and a steroid injections in the side of my ankle but on Wednesday the orthopaedic doctor say there is nothing he can find and has sent me to have s nerve test.

      My ankle is in pain most days and especially if I put my toes forward so it's mostly bandaged to a have the foot in a 90 degree angle.

      It's also much colder than the left foot.

      When it happened my two toes next to the big toe were swollen and very sore. After the injection the toe next to the little toe was shooting pain...

      I know something isn't right and it's been 18 months long wait to find out what's wrong and I'm told it might only become pain management ...

      I'm happy they finally found out what was wrong smile I am convinced we do know when something is wrong even though it takes time to find out.

    • Posted

      I have had an ankle problom for 3 years now and I have had difficulty doing all of the regular things I used to do day to day and I don't understand what has happened. I have had 4 different braces, an air cast, and an actual cast. I went through many months of physical therapy and it still didn't help. I strengthened it but it didn't help the pain. I am very confused on why and if possible, I want to get it fixed. I don't know if I need sugery, or if it just will stop on its own but I find the second option highly unlikeley. The strange thing is that I have went to the doctor 12 times now and I hope to get it fixed. I'd like it if you could tell me what you had to do to figure it out and I hope that I will get better and I am Glad you finnaly figured it out. Thanks!

    • Posted

      Hi Tiina5704 - I have the same cold feeling in my injured ankle! What was your diagnosis?? Please help - I've been having this for a year and the doctors can't figure it out!

  • Posted

    This is really interesting and sounds a lot like what I'm going through - except its my wrist thats giving me trouble. My X-Ray shows a bony fragment (only small) and my ultrasound is clear. The doctor believes there is no reason for pain but my Physiotherapist believes it is the fragment. I know something is wrong because like you, my wrist swells from activity and becomes dull and achy etc - Like I can still do everyday stuff but if its too aggrevated from like playing guitar or swimming it justs starts to truly hurt. Any ideas??

    • Posted

      I wish I had an idea. Nothing shows up on anything for my ankle. Unlike you I can't do everday things. Walking around the  house and putting weeight on it is sometimes more then I can take. I  hope they figure it out for you 

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