Because our ankles are used in virtually every upright activity that we participate in, ankle injuries are quite common. Athletes, especially, are at risk for ankle sprains when they do something that stretches their ankles beyond a reasonable limit. Sprains can occur while running or jumping, or simply by stepping awkwardly off a curb or on uneven ground.
What is a sprained ankle?
Let’s start with the basics – an ankle sprain occurs when there is tearing of ankle ligaments. The most common types of ankle sprains involve the outside (lateral) portion of the joint and, as stated previously, can occur during virtually any activity.
How do I know if I have a sprained ankle?
Well, pain will be the first symptom! Sprains tend to occur due to an inversion injury, which means that you come down on your foot in such a way that it rolls underneath the ankle/leg. Pain is typically felt along the outside of the ankle, and swelling (sometimes substantial) and bruising will also occur in most cases. Depending upon how badly the ankle is sprained, you may or may not be able to bear weight on the foot.
One of the risk factors for spraining an ankle is instability which, often times, is a result of prior sprains. This is because the muscles that run along the outside of the ankle have already been weakened, which makes that individual more prone to spraining the same ankle again.
How do you treat a sprained ankle?
Fortunately, most ankle sprains heal up with conservative medical treatment, which means that surgery isn’t usually needed. In general, the severity of the sprain will dictate the type of treatment needed. One of the most important post sprain factors tends to be the ability to bear weight on the ankle – for those who aren’t able to place any weight on the foot, immobilization may be necessary.
Typically, the first 2-3 days following a sprain involves rest and ice (applying ice for 20 minutes every few hours), as well as compression (with an ACE wrap), and elevating the injured limb.
Once the initial recovery period is over, your orthopaedic surgeon will probably want to get you into a physical therapy program so that you can learn how to strengthen the ankle muscles. At this point, you’ll probably be wearing a brace until your physical therapist feels that you’ve recovered enough and are strong enough to go without it. If ligaments are severely damaged – or if other damage has occurred as well – surgery may be necessary. However, as stated previously, this isn’t typically the case.
How long does it take to recover from a sprained ankle?
Recovery time is pretty dependent upon the severity of the sprain. For mild sprains, activities can often be eased into after 5-7 days of rest. For severe sprains, recovery could take upwards of several weeks. Fortunately, the outcome after a sprained ankle is pretty good.
If you have suffered a sprained ankle – or are dealing with any other foot or ankle pain and/or injuries – please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Dr. Krejci is Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery, PC’s foot and ankle specialist and would be happy to work with you – as would our team of physical therapists – to help get you back on your feet again!
source: jointessential.com; aofas.org