Ankle Sprains

An ankle or foot sprain is a soft tissue injury that occurs when an injury stretches or tears the ligaments that connect bone to bone.
Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprains

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What Are Ankle Sprains?

An ankle or foot sprain is a soft tissue injury that occurs when an injury stretches or tears the ligaments that connect bone to bone. Many sprains happen during sports, especially basketball and football. However, you may sprain your ankle just tripping on uneven ground or stepping the wrong way off a curb.

A sudden sideways motion, a twist, or a misstep. When your foot lands off balance, muscles may give way, allowing the ankle joint to move too far. If ligaments connecting the foot and anklebones overstretch or tear, a sprain is the result. These sudden injuries cause pain both at the time they occur and throughout the healing process. Depending on the sprain, swelling and bruising may extend from your ankle into your foot. With proper care, however, sprains can heal correctly. And, in many cases, you can reduce the risk of re-injury.

Ankle Sprains - Symptoms

If you have sprained your ankle, you will find it hard to walk on that foot. Your foot will swell and show bruising and you will feel extreme pain and stiffness.

How Are Ankle Sprains Treated?

Before recommending treatment, your doctor examines your ankle and foot. He or she feels for damaged ligaments, inflamed tendons, and any displaced bones or joints. X-rays of your ankle may be taken to rule out a fracture. Depending on your injury, treatment may range from pain control to immobilization of the joint. If the sprain is severe or if a bone is damaged, surgery may be needed.

R.I.C.E. is the best way to begin treatment at home: Rest your ankle or foot until you can see a doctor. Ice the area as soon as possible to reduce inflammation and reapply every three or 4 hours. Apply compression by wrapping an elastic bandage around the affected ankle. Elevate the leg on pillows, above your heart if possible.

If the pain and swelling have not subsided in a day or so or if you have difficulty walking, please come see a podiatrist for assessment of your injury. We will carefully examine your ankle and feet and order imaging tests like an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI to confirm our diagnosis.

Immobilization is important to complete healing of a sprain. After a period, you may be able to resume some activities by wearing a special boot or soft cast with crutches. Oral anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can reduce pain, inflammation and swelling.

Pain Control

For a mild to moderate sprain, a few days of home care will help speed up healing. Re-member to use RICE (which stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate) to reduce pain and swelling.Rest the sprained ankle. Do not stand on it for at least a day or two.Ice the sprain as often as possible. Apply ice to the injury for 20 minutes. Remove the cold pack and wait another 20 minutes. Then ice again. Protect your skin by placing a bandage or thin towel between the ice and your body.Compress (wrap) the swollen ankle with an elastic bandage. Elevate the sprained ankle above your heart level. To help reduce pain and swelling, your doctor may suggest using a medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, in addition to RICE. To test the injured joint and ligaments, your doctor may hold your foot while gently pulling the heel forward.

Immobilize Severe Sprains

If damage or pain is severe, your doctor may tape, splint, or cast the sprain. Once immobilized, the torn tissues can rest and heal in the proper position. You may need to use crutches temporarily if your foot cannot support weight.

Preventing Ankle Sprains

To avoid ankle sprains, always wear the proper athletic shoes for your activity. Replace shoes when worn out. Avoid walking or running on uneven surfaces.