Ankle sprains are one of the most common sport injuries but can occur in people of all ages. Ankle sprain injuries can also occur from simply losing your balance and/or taking a wrong step on an uneven surface. The cause of an ankle sprain is an abnormal twisting or rolling of the ankle joint usually from the foot being plantar flexed and inverted which places strain on the ankle ligaments. There are three grades of ankles sprains depending on the extent of the ligamentous injury: Grade I (mild sprain – overstretch ligaments), Grade II (moderate sprain- partial tear), Grade III (severe sprain – complete tear). Most ankle sprains are low-grade sprains where there is pain along the lateral outer side of the ankle and will heal with conservative treatments.
The following are conservative functional treatments that your doctor or podiatrist may recommend for a low-grade sprain:
- Treat immediately with RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate) and NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory mediations).
- Treat the first 3 weeks in an ankle brace or wrap which helps to stabilize the ankle while the ligaments are healing and will also help control the swelling.
- Work on ankle range of motion (ROM) exercise the next 3 to 6 weeks to build the ankle strength back up and prevent any adverse effects of immobilization on the cartilage, bone, and muscle.
Generally, you may return to normal activity within 6 to 12 weeks after collagen remodeling and healing has occurred. For a more severe sprain, the pain may be presented deeper within the ankle along with a “pop” sensation when the injury happened indicating a torn ligament. You should see your doctor or podiatrist to be best evaluated, as he or she will order an x-ray to rule out any broken bones. Without any radiographs, it can be difficult to differentiate a severe ankle sprain from an ankle fracture. If you are unable to bear weight and there is major swelling or bruising then this may also indicate a more serious injury such as an ankle fracture and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Without proper treatment, an ankle sprain may become more severe and can cause chronic ankle instability leading to further pain and development of arthritis. So call your podiatrist today for proper rehabilitation and treatment of an ankle sprain!
Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.