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Ankle Sprains Diagnosis

Diagnosing Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can be very painful and can make it difficult to perform normal daily activities and symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe. After an ankle sprain, inflammation sets in. The inflammation from the injury causes swelling, redness, bruising, and pain. There is usually an inability to walk properly.

Diagnosis of ankle sprain starts with a detailed history and physical examination.  The doctors at City Podiatry will diagnose your ankle sprain by performing a careful examination of your foot and ankle. It is very important that your doctor understand the how it happened and the “mechanism of action” of the injury. After reviewing symptoms, the doctor will ask the patient to describe exactly how the foot was injured.  This is very important to determine which ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones may be involved.  Also, just as important is to rule out ligament tears, ruptures, fracture and dislocations of foot and ankle bones.  The doctors at City Podiatry may also ask about the patient’s occupation, recreational activities, participation in sports, any previous foot trauma or foot surgery. Shoe gear may also be reviewed.

This physical exam includes palpation, or gentle pressing around the ankle to determine which ligaments are injured, checking for tenderness or bony dislocations or abnormalities.  During this exam, the doctor will note any swelling or bruising, as well as any decreases in flexibility and pain on palpation or range of motion. Range of motion, where the ankle  is moved in different directions will also be examined.  When doing a foot exam, the doctors at City Podiatry may also compare the injured ankle with the uninjured ankle.  Symptoms of a severe sprain are similar to those of a broken bone and require prompt medical evaluation.

It is very important to determine which ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones may be involved.  The doctors at City Podiatry can take digital Xrays, on site to determine this. X-rays are usually taken first to rule out any bony involvement including fracture or dislocation.   Soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons can not be well visualized on xray. If xrays are normal despite a severe injury and in more severe cases an ultrasound, CT scan or an MRI may be ordered.  These tests are much more specific for soft tissue injuries. At City Podiatry, Xrays and ultrasound can be done on site with state of the art digital technology. This allows patients to have results immediately.

Proper diagnosis is paramount to make an appropriate treatment plan.  For milder midfoot sprains, initial treatment may include recommendation of “RICE therapy”.  Rest. Ice the injured area to reduce swelling. Compression of the foot with an ace bandage. Elevation of the injured area.  Your doctor also may suggest that you take over the counter or prescription strength pain or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to relieve pain and reduce bruising, inflammation and swelling.

For more severe ankle sprains, the doctors at City Podiatry may immobilize the ankle in a brace, cast, shoe or boot.  The doctor may also recommend temporarily avoiding bearing weight on the injured ankle with the use of crutches, and some physical therapy.  Call the doctors at City Podiatry if experiencing these symptoms after a sprain, especially if pain prevents bearing weight or does not subside over a day or two.  In most cases a full recovery can take a few weeks to several months.