We’ve all experienced an injury at some point in our lives. Whether it was a ‘tweak’ to the knee while running on uneven ground, or a twist of an ankle while stepping off a curb. Perhaps you were able to walk it off or brushed off the slight limp in your gait as a minor inconvenience to your daily activities. When does that tweak become something more serious requiring some form of medical intervention? Below are four key indications your injury needs advice from a medical professional.
1. Swelling – if your injury is followed by a rapid onset of diffuse swelling (within hours) this is a sign you may have a more serious injury. Significant ankle sprains, anterior cruciate ligament tears (ACL), kneecap dislocations, and fractures all cause rapid swelling inside the joint. If your ankle looks like you have a baseball in your sock, or you have lost all sight of your kneecap – get yourself to a medical professional for an injury assessment.
2. Inability to Weight Bear - if you are unable to bear weight immediately after your injury, or cannot walk more than 4 steps, this could point to a significant bone injury (fracture). This is an indication in the Ottawa Knee & Ankle Rules that you require an x-ray to rule out a fracture.
3. Instability – if your injury was accompanied by a buckling sensation (plant and pivot movement or landing on uneven ground) or your ankle or knee buckles or gives way with simple movements after an injury, you may have extensive ligament damage. ACL tears are known to cause instability with twisting and pivoting movements, and severe ankle sprains can cause instability just from walking on a slightly uneven surface, such as gravel.