What is a Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle injury occurs when the ankle is rolled, twisted, or turned in an abnormal position. Therefore, stretching or tearing the ligaments (tough bands) that hold together the ankle bones.
To prevent excessive movement, we have ligaments. And these tough bands help to stabilize the joints. When our ligaments are forced beyond the everyday ability, a sprained ankle occurs. Although we have ligaments on either side of our ankles, an ankle sprain is most common on the outer side.
Depending on the severity will determine how the injury is treated. Often, self-care measures and over the counter pain medications are all you need. However, a foot specialist can determine the severity of the sprain and if additional treatment is required.
What Are The Symptoms Of an Ankle Sprain?
Depending on the severity of the sprain will also determine the symptoms. However, the symptoms may include the following:
- Ankle pain, especially when attempting to bear weight on the affected foot.
- Tender to the touch.
- Swelling and bruising.
- Restricted range of motion.
- Ankle instability.
- A popping sound or sensation at the time of injury.
Sprained Ankle Causes
A sprained ankle happens when it is forced out of its normal position. Therefore, causing one or more of the ligaments to stretch and tear. This tear can be partially or a complete tear.
The most common causes of ankle sprains are as follows:
- A fall that causes your ankle to twist.
- Landing awkwardly on your foot after jumping or pivoting.
- Walking or exercising on an uneven surface.
- Having your foot stepped on during a sports activity.
Treatment for a Sprained Ankle
As mentioned above, treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity. The goal is to reduce swelling and pain, promote healing of the ligament, and restore mobility. Most often, you can treat an ankle sprain conservatively, such as:
The R.I.C.E Method:
- Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling, or discomfort.
- Ice. Use an ice pack or ice slush bath immediately for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat every two to three hours while you’re awake. If you have vascular disease, diabetes, or decreased sensation, talk with your doctor before applying ice.
- Compression. To help stop swelling, compress the ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling stops. Don’t hinder circulation by wrapping too tightly. Begin wrapping at the end farthest from your heart.
- Elevation. To reduce swelling, elevate your ankle above the level of your heart, especially at night. Gravity helps reduce swelling by draining excess fluid.
When it comes to a sprained ankle, many times over-the-counter medications are enough to manage the pain, such as:
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
- Naproxen sodium (Aleve, others)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol+)
Physical therapy is a great way to encourage a normal range of motion. The physical therapist professional will help guide you through an exercise program to regain strength in your ankle. It’s crucial to do all of your homework that the therapist gives you for a full recovery.
When retraining your ankle, one of the most important therapies is for balance and stability. This will not only help with your current injury also but help prevent reoccurrences.
Speak with your doctor to find out if physical therapy is for you.
Ankle Sprain Surgery
In some cases, surgery is performed when the injury does not heal. This happens when the ankle remains unstable regardless of conservative methods being performed. Sometimes, surgery can also be necessary for chronic ankle sprains.
Main reasons for surgery to be performed on a sprained ankle:
- Repair a ligament that won’t heal
- Reconstruct a ligament with tissue from a nearby ligament or tendon