What is an Ankle Sprain?
Most people have twisted an ankle at some point in their life. But if your ankle gets swollen and painful after you twist it, you have most likely sprained it. This means you have stretched and possibly torn the ligaments in your ankle.
Even though ankle sprains are common, they are not always minor injuries. Some people with repeated or severe sprains can develop long-term joint pain and weakness. Treating a sprained ankle can help prevent ongoing ankle problems.
What Causes Ankle Sprains?
Most types of ankle sprains happen when you make a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted, such as when you play soccer or get tackled in football. Often the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and tear. Less often, the ankle rolls inward and the foot turns outward. This damages the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
An ankle sprain can range from mild to severe, depending on how badly the ligament is damaged and how many ligaments are injured. With a mild sprain, the ankle may be tender, swollen, and stiff. But it usually feels stable, and you can walk with little pain. A more serious sprain might include bruising and tenderness around the ankle, and walking is painful. In a severe ankle sprain, the ankle is unstable and may feel “wobbly”. You can’t walk, because the ankle gives out and may be very painful.
Damage to the ligament varies from simply stretched or slightly torn to completely torn. Your doctor will grade your sprain accordingly.
- Grade I is stretching or slight tearing of the ligament with mild tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. The ankle feels stable, and it is usually possible to walk with minimal pain.
- Grade II is a larger but incomplete tear with moderate pain, swelling, and bruising. The ankle sometimes feels stable, but the damaged areas are tender to the touch, and walking is painful.
- Grade III is a complete tear of the affected ligament or ligaments with severe swelling and bruising. The ankle is unstable and may feel “wobbly.” Walking is usually not possible, because the ankle gives out and there is intense pain, although initial pain may quickly subside.
What are the Symptoms?
With most sprains, you feel pain right away at the site of the tear. Often the ankle starts to swell immediately and may bruise. The ankle area is usually tender to touch, and it hurts to move it.
In more severe sprains, you may hear and/or feel something tear, along with a pop or snap. You will probably have extreme pain at first and will not be able to walk or even put weight on your foot. Usually, the more pain and swelling you have, the more severe your ankle sprain is and the longer it will take to heal.
How is an Ankle Sprain Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you how the injury occurred and if you have hurt your ankle before. He or she will check your foot and ankle, your lower leg, and even your knee to see if you are hurt anywhere else.
Your doctor may order X-rays to rule out a broken bone in the ankle or the foot. It is possible to break a bone in your foot or ankle at the same time as a sprain.
In most cases, doctors order X-rays in children with symptoms of an ankle sprain. This is because it is important to find and treat any damage to the growth plates in bones that support the ankle.
How is Ankle Sprain Treated?
Proper treatment are very important for ankle sprains. If an ankle sprain does not heal right, the joint may become unstable and may develop chronic pain. This can make your ankle weak and more likely to be reinjured.
Our clinic provides treatments for ankle sprain:
- Oral Medicines
- Anti-inflammatory injection
- Shockwave Therapy
- Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
When to Call a Doctor?
See a doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:
- Your foot or leg bends at an abnormal angle.
- You feel severe pain.
- Your foot is cool or pale or changes color.
- You feel numbness or tingling in your foot or toes that lasts after the initial injury.
- You can’t move your ankle.
You should see a doctor after an ankle sprain if you notice any of the following:
- You heard a popping sound at the time you sprained your ankle.
- You have moderate pain or severe swelling or bruising around your ankle.
- You can’t walk or put weight on your affected foot, or your ankle feels unstable.
- You have redness, swelling, or pain in your leg or groin. These can be signs of a blood clot.
- You have no improvement in your ankle after 1 week.
- Your swelling and bruising last more than 2 weeks.