Sprained ankles are the bane of many athletes and weekend warriors. If you think you’ve sprained an ankle, you should see a clinician for proper healing and to avoid future injury.
When you sprain an ankle, one or more ligaments of your ankle become overly stretched or even torn. Although it is possible to sprain the ligaments on the inside or outside of your ankle, the ligaments on the outside are most commonly sprained. They most often occur when your toes are on the ground, the heel is up and you are walking or running on an uneven surface. The ankle can turn inward, damaging the ligaments causing the sprain.
Ligaments in your ankle provide stability and motion, so when they are hurt, you are at an increased risk for more damaging injuries.
The severity of an ankle sprain is determined by a grading scale. Each grade has appropriate treatment.
Grade 1: Stretching of the ligaments. Treat by using RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Grade 2: Stretching and some rupture of the ligaments. Treat by using RICE and by allowing additional time to heal. A sprain of this severity may need to be splinted.
Grade 3: Greater rupture of the ligaments. You may need to wear a brace for 2-3 weeks while the injury heals. Repeated ankle sprains may require surgery to repair the ligaments.
After treatment, most people need to follow through with rehabilitation, with exercises to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and learn to use the ankle more efficiently. With any type of sprain the ankle needs sufficient time to recover. It is important to remember that even if the pain has gone away you still need to follow the correct recovery procedure in order to for your sprain to heal properly.
For sports- or work-related injuries, a physical or occupational therapist, or licensed athletic trainer, can be integral in returning to pre-injury capacity. Our Therapy & Sport Center provides treatment and rehab for injuries from the simplest sprain, to a full joint replacement. If you’re hurt – don’t hesitate to call. Waiting often only leads to further damage.