Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic
An ankle sprain results when the ligaments of the foot are either stretched too far or tear due to the injury. Ligaments hold the ankle and joint in place and protect the joint from abnormal twisting and rolling of the foot. In order to get back to regular activity quickly, it is important to properly treat an ankle sprain.
A sprained ankle is a very common injury. It is estimated that approximately 25,000 people sprain their ankle every day. Ankle sprains can occur during regular everyday activity, such as stepping down a step. Ankle sprains are a very common annoyance for athletes. Ankle sprains can result from simply planting your foot unevenly on a surface, causing ligaments to stretch.
ANKLE SPRAIN DIAGNOSIS
The symptoms for a broken bone and a sprain are similar, your doctor may order X-rays to make sure you do not have a broken bone in your ankle or foot. If there is no broken bone the doctor will determine the grade of the sprain based on bruising, pain and swelling. The doctor may also need to order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan to determine if the ligament is simply stretched or if there is a complete tear. If the ligament is torn, the ankle will become unstable and it is possible to cause damage to the ankle joint. The MRI is used in severe injuries to examine the joint surface, identify bone chips, etc.
ANKLE SPRAIN TREATMENT
Ankle sprains require time to heal. You can expect to use crutches depending on the swelling, pain and grade of sprain. The treatment for most ankle sprains is nonsurgical. Treatment suggestions will vary based on the grade of the sprain. Typical treatments may include:
- Grade 1 Sprain calls for rest, ice, compression and elevation for 48 hours.
- Grade 2 Sprain also calls for rest, ice, compression and elevation. However, the healing time may take longer and the doctor may need to immobilize the ankle.
- Grade 3 Sprain is level at which surgery may be required. This grade of injury may require a cast or brace to insure stability and proper healing. Rarely is surgery required for an ankle sprain, it is reserved for injuries that fail to heal with nonsurgical treatments. Surgical options may include arthroscopy or reconstruction.
ANKLE SPRAIN PREVENTION
Ankle sprains are not 100% unpreventable. However, the best way to prevent sprains is to maintain good flexibility, strength and muscle balance. You can also wear good shoes, warm-up before exercising, be mindful of steps and surfaces that are uneven, pay attention to signs of fatigue and pain.