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Ankle Sprains

What is an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains are very common injuries of the lower extremity and occur when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ligaments are strong, fibrous tissues that connect the ankle joint which is comprised of foot bones and the lower leg bones. They keep the ankle in proper position and stabilize the joint. Unnatural motions like twisting, over-stretching and unusual amount of force applied to the joint and ligaments result in ankle sprains. This commonly happens during running, walking, sports, falling or when the ground is uneven. If there is severe tearing of the ligaments, one may hear or feel a “pop” when the sprain occurs.

When the foot forcefully goes in an inward motion it is called inversion, the lateral ligaments then become sprained. This is the most common way that ankles become sprained. The second most common ankle injury is when the foot forcefully goes outward, called eversion, spraining the medial ligaments. These unnatural twisting motions can happen when the foot is planted awkwardly, when the ground is uneven or stepping in a hole.

Ankle sprains can be very painful and can make it difficult to perform normal daily activities and symptoms can range from mild to severe. After an ankle sprain, inflammation sets in. Due to the inflammation from the injury the ankle will become swollen, red, bruised, painful and there is usually an inability to walk properly. The doctors at City Podiatry will diagnose your ankle sprain by performing a careful examination of your foot and ankle. This physical exam includes palpation, or gentle pressing around the ankle to determine which ligaments are injured. Range of motion, where the ankle is moved in different directions will also be examined. RICE therapy is most often the first line of treatment. (Rest, ice, compression and elevation.) It is important to have your ankle sprain evaluated to rule out ligament tear, ruptures and even fractures of foot and ankle bones. Symptoms of a severe sprain are similar to those of a broken bone and require prompt medical evaluation. The doctors at City Podiatry will take digital Xrays, on site to determine this. 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.

Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a more severe sprain can weaken your ankle causing it to be more susceptible to reinjury. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to long-term problems, including chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and ongoing instability. Sprains can range from tiny tears in the fibers that make up the ligament to complete tears through the tissue.

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.