If you have ever played a sport of any kind or even completed any physical task, you have likely experienced a painful ankle sprain. Of course, ankle sprains are most common in soccer and football players, but they can happen to anyone. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments in your ankle are damaged. Ligaments are the stretchy, tough bands that serve the role of holding your bones into place, stabilizing the joint. They are designed to move and stretch, but can only be stretched to a certain point. Past this point, when a ligament is torn, an ankle sprain occurs.
What Causes a Sprained Ankle?
As mentioned above, anyone can get a sprained ankle. It occurs when you turn, twist or roll your ankle in an awkward way, tearing or stretching the ligaments. Although sprains are not as severe as breaks, they can still be life-altering due to the pain they involve.
Ankle Sprain Symptoms
The following is an outline of the symptoms associated with a sprained ankle:
- Hearing a popping sound or feeling a sensation indicating a pop at the time of your injury.
- Instability within the ankle joint.
- Noticing less range of motion within the ankle.
- Bruising on the ankle.
- Swelling in and around the ankle joint.
- Tenderness within the area.
- Pain, especially when putting weight on the injured foot.
Causes of Sprained Ankles, Other than Sports
We already mentioned playing sports as being a risk factor for ankle sprains. However, there are other causes that might result in this painful condition. They are listed below:
- Someone else either landing or stepping on your foot.
- Exercising or walking on an uneven surface.
- Landing oddly after pivoting or jumping.
- Falling, causing your twist your ankle.
- Previous ankle injury. Once you have experienced an ankle sprain, you are more prone to getting another one.
- Poor shape, meaning you aren’t as flexible or strong in the ankle area as necessary to prevent injury.
- Ill-fitting or wrong footwear. If your shoes don’t fit properly or you are wearing the wrong footwear for the activity, you are more vulnerable to an ankle injury.
Signs Of Ankle Sprain Severity
The severity of your sprain might become apparent if you are unable to stand or walk, consistent pain is occurring over a prolonged period of time, swelling is much more severe than initially present, or if you start to experience tingling or numbness. These signs may indicate that your ankle sprain might actually be a broken ankle, an injury that requires immediate medical attention.
How to Treat an Ankle Sprain
When you experience an ankle sprain, you might wonder when it’s time to see a podiatrist or other medical provider for treatment. However, in some cases, ankle sprains will clear up on their own. Often, a podiatrist will recommend the RICE method to counteract inflammation. The outline of the RICE method is listed below:
- Rest: Get off your feet.
- Ice: Apply ice in intervals to ease pain and inflammation.
- Compression: Often with an elastic bandage.
- Elevation: Keeping your ankle lifted above your heart level when laying down.
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications is another common method for reducing swelling and reducing painful symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking any medications.
Treatment Options for More Severe Sprains
If your ankle sprain is more severe in nature, your doctor might recommend physical therapy as a treatment option to restore your range of motion. Of course, you would need to wait for the swelling and pain associated with the sprain to subside a bit. In severe sprains, surgery can be necessary. Even after the surgery, the recovery process can be long. However, it is the last resort treatment option and should only be considered after all other treatments have failed.
How Long Does it Take to Recover From an Ankle Sprain?
Usually, an ankle sprain will clear up in a matter of days. However, moderate or severe sprains can take as long as several weeks. Of course, the closer you listen to the doctor’s advice pertaining to your ankle sprain treatment, the quicker you will achieve healing.
How to Prevent an Ankle Sprain
All ankles sprains cannot be prevented in their entirety. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of an ankle sprain. They are as follows:
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes, as they can easily cause your ankle to roll if you step wrong.
- Practice balancing and stability, making it less likely for you to lose your balance and fall.
- Maintain your flexibility, strength, and muscle within the body, ensuring the joint is properly stabilized.
- Condition your body and warm up before participating in a sport.
- Be careful when running, walking or working on uneven surfaces, where ankle rolls might be more likely.
- Tape a previously injured or weak ankle or wear a support brace when participating in physical activity.
- Wear the proper shoes for the activity.
Grading Your Ankle Sprain
When you visit a podiatrist at Red Mountain Footcare, they will be able to tell you the severity of your ankle sprain. The following are the grades used to categorize ankle sprains:
- Grade I: Tears in only a few fibers.
- Grade II: A considerable portion of the ankle tissues are torn.
- Grade III: A complete ligament tear.
Complications of an Ankle Sprain
It’s important to treat an ankle sprain and treat it as a valid medical condition. Although an ankle sprain is a common injury, it still requires treatment. If you fail to do so, you can experience the complications listed below:
- Arthritis within the ankle joint.
- Chronic instability of the ankle joint.
- Chronic pain in the ankle joint.
Facts You Might Not Know About Ankle Sprains
In general, ankle sprains will occur most often when your foot twists inwards while pointing down.
- An ultrasound and/or X-ray isn’t required to treat an ankle sprain.
- Exercises typically help you recover the quickest.
- There’s a good chance you will experience an ankle sprain at some point in your life.
When You Need to go See a Podiatrist
You need to go back to see your doctor if the stiffness, swelling or pain relating to your ankle sprain doesn’t get better or worsens even after you have followed the RICE treatment method or any other doctor recommendations. Contact us at Red Mountain Footcare to learn more about ankle sprains and what we can do to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Schedule a one-on-one appointment with us online.