Anyone who has had a sprained ankle knows that the injury can feel worse than actually fracturing the bone.
Sprained ankles are common and the injury can occur anytime you roll, turn, or twist your ankle in an awkward way. When this happens, the ligaments that help hold your ankle bones together can stretch or tear.
But how do you know if you have a sprained ankle? What are the symptoms? How will your doctor tell if you have a sprain? And most importantly, what does treatment for a sprained ankle look like? Read on to learn everything you need to know.
Sprained Ankle Symptoms
Sprained ankle symptoms can vary depending on how severe the injury is. Symptoms of a sprained ankle can include:
- Pain in your ankle and the surrounding area, especially when putting weight on the affected foot
- Ankle instability
- Limited range of motion in the affected foot
- Popping sensation or sound when the injury takes place
Types of Sprained Ankles
There are three grades of ankle sprains, depending on the severity of the injury:
Grade 1 Ankle Sprains
These sprains are considered mild. You can expect the ligament to heal in two to three weeks. Although considered mild, these sprains can cause joint stiffness, ligament laxity, and muscle weakness, so treating your injury adequately is important.
Grade 2 Ankle Sprains
These sprains are considered moderate and typically include an excessively stretched ligament. You can expect the ligament to heal in four to six weeks.
Grade 3 Ankle Sprains
These sprains are considered severe because a ligament has likely ruptured completely. You can expect the ligament to heal in six to 12 weeks.
What causes a sprained ankle?
Lots of things can cause a sprained ankle. A sprain can occur whenever the ankle is forced to move out of its normal position. When this happens, it can cause one or more of the ligaments to stretch or tear.
Causes of a sprained ankle may include:
- Walking, jogging, or running on an uneven surface
- Falling and twisting your ankle upon landing
- Landing awkwardly on your foot after jumping
- Another person stepping or landing on your foot
Certain people have an increased risk of sustaining a sprained ankle. Those who participate in sports are significantly more likely to be injured. If you have had a prior ankle injury or are in poor physical condition, then you also have an increased risk of spraining your ankle.
How are ankle sprains diagnosed?
A sprained ankle can be diagnosed by your doctor. They will examine your ankle, foot, and lower leg during a physical exam. The doctor will touch the skin around the injury to check for any points of tenderness. They will also move your foot to examine the range of motion and see which positions cause pain.
If your doctor believes your injury is more severe, they will likely recommend further tests (like X-rays, MRI, CT scan, etc.) to check for broken bones or other injuries.
Sprained Ankle Treatment
Treating a sprained ankle depends on how severe the sprain is. Although a mixture of over-the-counter medication and self-care may be all you need to treat your sprained ankle, sometimes it might be necessary to have a medical evaluation.
When it comes to self-caring for a sprained ankle, we recommend the R.I.C.E. approach:
Rest: Be sure to avoid strenuous activities that can increase your pain and swelling.
Ice: Ice your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes immediately following your injury and repeat every two to three hours when you’re not asleep. Similarly, you can take an ice bath.
Compression: Compressing your ankle will help stop swelling. We recommend wrapping your ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling lessens.
Elevate: Elevate your ankle above the level of your heart whenever you can, especially at night. This will help reduce swelling and drain excess fluid.
Sprained Ankle Complications
If left untreated, a sprained ankle can lead to complications including:
- Chronic pain in the ankle
- Chronic pain in the surrounding areas
- Chronic instability in the ankle joint
- Arthritis in the ankle joint
Request An Appointment At The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re suffering from a sprained ankle injury, let us help you get back to doing the things you love. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.