The tendency to limp or favor an injured ankle can have consequences for the rest of the injured leg, as well as your uninjured leg. While you do need to be careful about how much pressure and use your injured leg undergoes, you also have to be careful not to develop a secondary injury as a result of protecting the injured joint. This is easier than it sounds, and it helps if you know why an ankle injury can have such a widespread effect.
Strain Will Spread
Simply put, the weight and strain that your injured ankle would normally handle when healthy gets transferred to surrounding body parts. If you limp, your other leg picks up a lot of the slack, allowing you to shift weight to that leg. The unbalanced weight can place undue strain on that leg, creating shin, knee, ankle, and foot pain. If you end up holding your injured ankle and your foot in a certain way to reduce pain, the knee and shin on that same leg can start to hurt from the combination of pressure and awkward positioning.
Proper Medical Attention Focuses on Recovery
Two major steps help protect your other joints and limbs in the event of an ankle injury. One is prompt medical attention to figure out what happened and what specific recovery strategies you need to use. For example, a sprain after an accident may need different care than a sore ankle due to overuse after a long hike. When you know what happened and what to focus on in your recovery, you also get a better sense of how to move (or whether to move as recovery also includes rest).
The other is getting -- and using -- any equipment or supplies that your particular injury needs. For example, crutches may help remove some of the added weight that can cause shin and knee pain. Ensure the crutch height is set properly so that they help, rather than creating more problems for your arms and shoulders (you can see how one injury, improperly handled, can set off a cascade of additional issues). If your doctor says you need compression, get an elastic bandage or brace and use that for as long as your doctor says to use it. Don't assume a little rest and some painkillers will be all you need.
Routines Need Re-evaluation
If an injury is due to an accident beyond your control, there's not much you can do other than be careful in general to prevent another accident. But if the ankle injury is due to poor gait or posture, overuse, incorrect shoes and foot support, or another issue that you have some control over, re-evaluate your movement, the places you move, and any accessories involved in the movement, such as shoes. Your doctor can give you an idea of what caused the injury, which gives you an idea of what to target and change to prevent another injury.
Ankle injuries are no fun, but they do heal -- and proper attention helps them heal more quickly. Don't let an ankle injury fester. See a doctor, such as at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C., so you can get better and get back to your sports.