Can you remember a time when you came off of a step the wrong way or rolled your ankle on uneven ground? A simple misstep can lead to an injury of the ligaments that support the ankle. An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle rolls or twists into an awkward position, leading to the stretching of the ligaments that stabilize the ankle. They may stretch so much that they partially or completely tear. This injury affects people of all ages and can vary tremendously in severity.
Ankle sprains are broken down into 3 types:
Grade 1 – Mild. Stretching of the ligament(s). Recovery is about 1-3 weeks.
Grade 2 – Moderate. Partial tear of the ligament(s). Recovery is about 4-6 weeks.
Grade 3 – Severe. Complete tear of the ligament(s). Recovery can take up to 3-6 months.
The majority of ankle sprains are mild and can be treated at home with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). If you are experiencing a lot of swelling, pain and trouble walking despite treatment at home, please call the office.
Imaging may be ordered such as an xray to rule out a fracture or an MRI/CT/Ultrasound to evaluate the ligaments and tendons for possible tear.
In addition to RICE, treatment may include immobilization for a period of time with a brace or walking boot. Physical therapy is critical to the treatment of ankle sprains. Without proper rehab the ankle will remain weak and unstable leading to recurrent sprains.
If left untreated one may develop chronic pain, arthritis, ankle instability. The majority of ankle sprains can be treated with conservative care, however in some cases surgery may be necessary to repair damaged ligaments.