Whether you’re an athlete and sustained an injury during a game, or if you simply stepped wrong walking down some stairs, ankle sprains are painful and require the right treatment in order for it to heal correctly and in as little time as possible.
At Allcare Foot & Ankle Care, our podiatrists want to ensure that your ankle sprain is treated right away and with the right care so that in the future you aren’t at a higher risk of another injury. In this blog post, we will discuss what causes ankle sprains, the types of sprains, symptoms, treatment, and how to prevent them from happening. If you have injured your ankle, be sure to schedule an appointment at our podiatrist office in either Arlington or Dallas.
What Causes Ankle Sprains?
Ankles are made up of ligaments and tendons that allow our feet to rotate in a full range of motion. When a movement goes beyond this range of motion, the ligaments that connect the ankle and the foot can stretch or even tear, which causes a sprained ankle. Sprains can be more common in people who have heels that naturally turn in, who have weak peroneals, which is a muscle that runs down the outside of the ankle, or anyone who has had a sprained ankle in the past.
Types of Sprains
When you visit with a foot doctor, they will inspect the foot in order to determine which type of sprain you have, either an inversion sprain, an eversion sprain, or a high ankle sprain. All of these sprains will cause tenderness and swelling of the area, bruising, and it may be a challenge to put weight on the foot.
- Inversion Sprain: An inversion sprain is the most common and occurs when you roll your ankle outward, which stretches or tears the ligaments on the outside of your ankle.
- Eversion Sprain: Less common than inversion sprains, these occur when you roll your ankle inward.
- High Ankle Sprain: This is the least type, but is more common in football or basketball players. High ankle sprains happen when the entire foot rolls outside, which forces the leg to roll inward. These sprains can cause greater damage to the ligaments surrounding the joint and they can take longer to treat.
Along with finding out which type of ankle sprain you have, your podiatrist will also tell you what grade of sprain it is, or how bad the injury is. There are three grades:
- Grade one is characterized by some swelling, the ligaments are just slightly stretched, and the foot is strong enough to walk on.
- Grade two the ligaments sustained more stretching or tearing, there is more bruising and swelling, and the foot is difficult to walk on.
- Grade three there is significant pain and swelling, the ligament is torn completely, and the foot shouldn’t move in order to heal correctly.
Ankle Sprain Treatment
After the injury, even if you are able to walk on the foot and there is limited swelling and bruising, it is still important to seek professional treatment from a podiatrist. A doctor will be able to diagnose the sprain and determine the best treatment plan. In general, there are two things that are essential in the proper treatment of an ankle sprain and in preventing future injuries: reducing the swelling and strengthening the ankle.
Reducing the Swelling
This can be done with a few techniques: icing the foot, rest, compression, and elevating the foot.
- Ice: Immediately after the injury, use either a cold compress or a bag of ice to reduce the swelling. This can be done three to four times a day at 20-minute intervals.
- Rest: For at least two to three days, or up to five days depending on the severity of the injury, try to limit the amount of weight being put on the ankle. When you need to get around, consider using a pair of crutches to keep weight off the ankle.
- Compression: To limit the mobility of your ankle and for support, use an elastic bandage or brace.
- Elevate: For the first two days after the injury, elevate the ankle above your heart. This will allow blood to flow to the area, which will help fight the swelling.
Strengthening the Ankle
After you are able to put weight on the ankle, it’s essential that you complete some exercises which will help build strength in order to prevent future injuries. Here are some exercises you can try yourself, but remember to still schedule a visit with a podiatrist so that you can be sure to have the proper form and technique.
- Flexing the Ankle: Sitting on the floor with both legs extended, wrap a resistance band around the injured foot and hold on to both ends of the band with your hands. Push the foot down against the band and slowly return to the starting position so that the ankle is moving up and down.
- Ankle Eversion and Inversion: In this exercise, the ankle will be moving from side-to-side. Attach the ends of a resistance band to a sturdy piece of furniture and wrap the middle of the band around the foot. With an everson exercise, stretch the foot to the outside. With an inversion exercise, stretch the foot to the inside.
Whether mild or severe, ankle sprains should be treated right away and by an experienced podiatrist. If you sustain a foot injury, get in touch with the team at Allcare Foot & Ankle Care in both Arlington and Dallas. Schedule an appointment with us today for professional and thorough foot care.