Ankle sprains can happen at any time, but frequently occur when participating in sports. In fact, ankle sprains, which are ligament injuries, are the most common sports injury. Tearing of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are the most prevalent type of sprain, although pain on the inner side of the ankle may indicate damage to the ligaments that support the arch.

Sprains are more likely your ankle when the toes are on the ground and the heel up. This position puts the ankle’s ligaments under tension and more easily injured. Landing on an uneven surface can also turn the ankle inward, damaging ligaments.

Sprains generally cause swelling, which can remain for quite some time, and may even be accompanied by a pop at the time of injury. When a sprain is too painful to bear weight or walk, an x-ray can determine if there has been a bone fracture. If there is no fracture involved, these four simple steps can help recovery time, while reducing swelling and pain.

  • Rest it by keeping weight off the ankle, and using crutches if necessary. An ankle brace can be used to help control swelling and add stability during healing.
  • Ice the ankle to keep swelling down. Avoid putting ice directly on the skin, instead placing the ice within a thin towel or piece of cloth for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Compress and immobilize to help support the injury and control swelling.
  • Elevate the ankle above the heart as needed for swelling.

Regular stretching, along with balance, flexibility, and coordination exercises, can help prevent ankle injuries. To avoid repeating sprains, taping the ankle or wearing a brace may be useful.

If the ankle doesn’t seem to be improving, an orthopedic doctor can help. Recovery can be slow and early treatment can make a difference. Fortunately, most sprains don’t require surgical treatment, although when recurrent sprains occur, there may be surgical treatment available. For severe sprains, a walking boot or short leg cast might be advised.

If you are experiencing ankle pain, please call or visit Spine & Orthopedic Center today. Our doctors can help you determine if you have a fracture or other injury, and advise you on an appropriate treatment plan to put you on the road to recovery.