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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every year more than three million visits to the emergency room involve foot and ankle injuries.

Now a new study shows patients are often misdiagnosed, leading to all kinds of long-term health problems

Paul Picinich always played hard until an intense flag football game landed him on the sidelines last year.

“I tried to grab the flag and felt something rip in my ankle,” he recalled.

The next day he couldn’t walk, so he headed to Urgent Care.

“He (the doctor) said ‘we’re probably looking at a sprain but the X-Rays are pretty inconclusive. You’re probably going to need to get an MRI if you really want to assess this sprain’,” Picinich.

It was much worse. Turns out Picinich had multiple ligament tears in his ankle.

“My foot was disconnected almost fully from, you know, the rest of my leg,” said Picinich.

A news study from the American Osteopathic Association found primary doctors often misdiagnose many common foot and ankle injuries. Dr. Naresh Rao says a second opinion from an orthopedic specialist and additional imaging can help prevent a misdiagnosis.

If not.

“Long term effects can be unfortunately painful, debilitating, can lead to osteoarthritis, can lead to possible surgery, can lead to the possible need for a brace the rest of their life,” said Rao.

With the right diagnosis and intense therapy, Picinich had a shorter recovery than expected and was back on the field in a month and a half/

“I think the treatment regimen actually helped make it stronger,” said Picinich.

Experts say delayed diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle injuries can also lead to recurring ankle sprains.


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