Causes and treatments of an ankle sprain
It’s amazing how just a simple awkward step off the curb can leave you dealing with ankle pain. Ankle sprains are a common injury in both athletes and non-athletes, but the good news is that this injury can often be prevented with proper care and the right strengthening and training exercises.
What causes an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle joint is twisted or forced out of its normal position. This can cause the ligaments around the ankle to stretch or tear. This can occur during normal everyday movements or during physical activity. There are varying degrees of an ankle sprain (grade 1-3). When you come into our office the first thing we will do is examine the ankle and run the appropriate imaging tests to diagnose the severity of your injury.
Grade 1: the ligaments of the ankle are stretched but they aren’t torn. This can lead to minor pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness.
Grade 2: this results in a partial tear of one of the ligaments. Someone with a grade 2 ankle sprain will experience moderate pain, inflammation, tenderness and ankle instability and weakness when standing or putting weight on the foot.
Grade 3: this occurs when there is a complete tear in one or more of the ligaments. This results in severe symptoms and your ankle may feel like it gives out whenever you bear weight or are in motion.
How is an ankle sprain treated?
Determining the severity of your ankle sprain will also help us determine your treatment plan. For example, patients dealing with minor symptoms associated with a grade 1 sprain will heal with proper home care. Most podiatrists will recommend the RICE method (rest, ice, elevation and compression). You may also take an over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate discomfort as the sprain heals. Most minor sprains will heal within 1-3 weeks.
Moderate or grade 2 sprains may also follow the RICE method to manage symptoms. Your foot doctor may also recommend immobilizing or wearing a splint until the ankle has healed. Some patients may also benefit from physical therapy and rehabilitation to restrengthen the ligaments in the injured ankle.
More severe sprains (grade 3) will require immobilization, as well as other treatment options. In some cases, your foot specialist may also recommend surgery to repair the torn ligament.