An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle,usually on the outside of the ankle. Ligaments are bands of tissue—like rubber bands—that connect one bone to another and bind the joints together. In the ankle joint,ligaments provide stability by limiting side-to-side movement.
Some ankle sprains are much worse than others. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved. Ankle sprains are not the same as strains,which affect muscles rather than ligaments.
Sprained ankles often result from a fall, a sudden twist, or a blow that forces the ankle joint out of its normal position. Ankle sprains commonly occur while participating in sports,wearing inappropriate shoes,or walking or running on an uneven surface. Sometimes ankle sprains occur because of weak ankles,a condition that some people are born with. Previous ankle or foot injuries can also weaken the ankle and lead to sprains.
The signs and symptoms of ankle sprains may include:
• Pain or soreness
• Difficulty walking
• Stiffness in the joint
These symptoms may vary in intensity,depending on the severity of the sprain. Sometimes pain and swelling are absent in people with previous ankle sprains—instead, they may simply feel the ankle is wobbly and unsteady when they walk. Even if you don’t have pain or swelling with a sprained ankle,treatment is crucial. Any ankle sprain—whether it’s your first or your fifth—requires prompt medical attention. If you think you’ve sprained your ankle,contact your foot and ankle surgeon for an appointment as soon as possible. In the meantime, immediately begin using the “R.I.C.E.” method—Rest,Ice,Compression, and Elevation—to help reduce swelling,pain,and further injury.
There are four key reasons why an ankle sprain should be promptly evaluated and treated by a foot and ankle surgeon:
When you have an ankle sprain, rehabilitation is crucial—and it starts the moment your treatment begins. Your foot and ankle surgeon mayrecommend one or more of the following treatment options:
• Immobilization. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may receive a short-leg cast, a walking boot,or a brace to keep your ankle from moving. You may also need crutches.
• Early physical therapy. Your doctor will start you on a rehabilitation program as soon as possible to promote healing and increase your range of motion.This includes doing prescribed exercises.
• Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen,may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, prescription pain medications areneeded to provide adequate relief.
• Icing. You may be advised to ice your injury several times a day until the pain and swelling resolves. Wrap ice cubes, or a bag of frozen peas or corn,in a thin towel. Do not put ice directly on your skin.
• Compression wraps. To prevent further swelling,you may need to keep your ankle wrapped in an elastic bandage or stocking.
In more severe cases,surgery may be required to adequately treat an ankle sprain. Surgery often involves repairing the damaged ligament orligaments. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the surgical procedure best suited for your case based on the type and severity of your injury as well as your activity level. After surgery,rehabilitation is extremely important. Completing your rehabilitation program is crucial to a successful outcome. Besure to continue to see your foot and ankle surgeon during this period to ensure that your ankle heals properly and function is restored.
When an ankle is sprained, the ligaments above can stretch, partially tear, or completely tear. Without proper treatment, the ligaments will not heal correctly and cause long-term ankle instability, pain, and arthritis. Immediate treatments focus on decreasing swelling.
Protection: Wear an ankle brace that will immobilize the injured ligaments, protect the area, and allow healing and recovery from the sprain, but allow to you walk.
Rest: Limit activities and use crutches if needed.
Ice: Ice your ankle as soon as possible following the injury, use ice for the first 72 hours, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off.
Compression: On old reliable remedy is to place an ace-wrap in ‘Figure 8’ around your ankle. As a more effective means of controlling the swelling, decreasing pain and speeding your recovery, invest in running specific compression stockings that will help solve the problem. You will also be able to put these to use later to speed recovery after exercise.
Elevation:Keep your ankle above your heart. Anti-inflammatories:Over-the-counter medications such as Motrin, Advil, or Alleve are very helpful if your stomach can tolerate them, but ask your doctor before taking any new medicine.
Rehabilitation through physical therapy under the directions of a doctor with an interest in sports medicine is critical. Make sure your doctor is interested in getting you back to your desired activity level. You must both work together to develop a plan so you can reach your goals. The good news is that in many cases, functional rehabilitation can get you back in action and sometimes in better condition than before the injury. Recovery is an active process. We have in office physical therapy with a highly skilled licensed physical therapist who also has an interest in sports medicine and the active athlete.
Ankle sprains are painful and can severely limit you ability to walk, work and carry out the functions of a busy lifestyle. We usually have same-day appointment slots reserved for ankle sprain and other trauma patients. If you need an immediate appointment inquire at our reservation desk. Keep in mind we also have concierge service appointments for those with the most demanding schedules.