Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries to the foot and ankle. It is caused by turning or twisting your ankle and overstretching or even tearing the ligaments of your ankle. Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe and recurrent ankle sprains, or untreated ankle sprains can lead to chronic ankle instability.
Most sprained ankles occur in the lateral ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Sprains can range from tiny tears in the fibers that make up the ligament to complete tears through the tissue.
Grade 1 Sprain (Mild)
Grade 2 Sprain (Moderate)
Grade 3 Sprain (Severe)
If there is a complete tear of the ligaments, the ankle may become unstable after the initial injury phase passes. Over time, this instability can result in damage to the bones and cartilage of the ankle joint.
Ankle sprains can be treated conservatively most of the time, treatment often consists of anti-inflammatory medications, immobilization, and therapy. If untreated ankle sprains can become recurrent and there is a risk the ligament will not heal properly.
Ankle sprains are painful injuries that can cause bruising, swelling, and pain to the affected ankle. They can result from walking on unever surfaces, rolling an ankle, sports that require “cutting” movements, and trips and falls.
Your physician will perform a physical exam to determine the extent of the sprain and the stability of the ankle.
X Rays will likely be performed to rule out a fracture, it is not uncommon with these injuries to believe it is only a sprain when there is a fracture present to the ankle.
MRI can be utilized to give more specific information about the severity and extent of the sprain.
Immobilization in a brace, boot, or cast is often required for 3-4 weeks for treatment of a sprain depending on its severity.
Physical therapy is an important tool to not only treat a sprain, but to help prevent future injuries as well.
Patients often do well with conservative treatment and the outcomes for ankle sprains when treated are very good. Patients rarely require surgery for acute sprains, however untreated sprains or recurrent sprains that lead to instability may require surgical intervention for stabilization.
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