Sprained Ankle

This is a painful condition that occurs when an abrupt ankle contortion damages the ankle ligaments. There are many types of sprains, and treatment varies for each one.

What You Need To Know About Sprained Ankles

What is a Sprained Ankle?

A sprained ankle is a very common musculoskeletal injury experienced by roughly 25,000 people each day. Sudden stretching of the ankle causes the ligaments to tear (partially or entirely). The injury occurs as a result of sudden twisting during activities like sports or putting your foot on irregular surfaces. The initial pain is severe and often accompanied by a popping sensation.

There are many types of sprains, and each requires different interventions.

Schedule an appointment with a Resurgens foot and ankle physician to learn more.

What Causes an Ankle Sprain?

Normally the ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position. They protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot. A ligament is an elastic structure. Ligaments usually stretch within their limits, and then go back to their regular positions.

However, when an activity causes the ankle to stretch beyond its limits, a sprain occurs. Usually, this is a quick movement that causes the foot to turn inwards or outwards uncontrollably. A sprained ankle can happen to athletes and non-athletes, children, and adults. It can happen when you take part in sports and physical fitness activities. It can also occur when you simply step on an uneven surface or step down at an angle.

Specific populations like women, children, and teenagers are at higher risk of sprains. Athletes are especially at risk of ankle sprains, particularly sports with rapid movements like volleyball, basketball, and soccer. Inadequate/inappropriate footwear can add to the likelihood of sprains. And if you have had a sprained ankle in the past, you are more likely to experience one again.

Sprained Ankle Symptoms

If you have recently experienced a fall or blow that was accompanied by pain, you may have sprained your ankle. Some other symptoms include:

  • Bruising or swelling around the ankle

  • Difficulty moving the ankle

  • A popping sound following your injury

  • Intense bone or muscle pain

  • Limping while walking

The amount of force determines the severity of the sprain. A mild sprain is a Grade 1, a moderate sprain is a Grade 2, and a severe sprain is a Grade 3. Only a qualified health professional can diagnose a sprained ankle.

How a Sprained Ankle is Diagnosed

Since there are many types of ankle sprains, your doctor will need to determine the extent of your ankle damage. They will begin with a physical screening.

During your physical screening, they will examine your ankle, lower leg, and foot, and evaluate your range of motion. You may feel discomfort as they check for points of tenderness on your body.

If your injury needs further evaluation, the doctor will recommend diagnostic imaging with x-ray,MRI, or CT scans. Diagnostic imaging will help your doctor develop your customized treatment plan.

Sprained Ankle Treatment

Most ankle sprains need only a period of protection to heal. The healing process takes about four to six weeks. The doctor may tell you to incorporate motion early in the healing process to prevent stiffness.

Ankle motion may also aid in being able to sense position, location, orientation, and movement of the ankle (proprioception). Even a complete ligament tear can heal without surgical repair if it is immobilized appropriately. If an ankle has a chronic tear, it can still be highly functional because overlying tendons help with stability and motion.

There are different sprain severity levels. Each severity level requires a different level of intervention:

  • For a Grade 1 sprained ankle, use R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation):

  • For a Grade 2 sprained ankle, the RICE guidelines can also be used. Allow more time for healing to occur. The doctor may also use a device to immobilize or splint the ankle.

  • A Grade 3 sprained ankle can be associated with permanent instability. Surgery is rarely needed. A short leg cast or a cast-brace may be used for two weeks to three weeks

Surgical treatment for Ankle Sprains is rare. Surgery is reserved for injuries that fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment, and for persistent instability after months of rehabilitation and non-surgical treatment.

No two sprains or people are the same. Your Resurgens physician will design a unique treatment plan to help your healing.

Visit the Resurgens Foot and Ankle Center today to learn more about ankle sprain treatment.