Ankle sprains are caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the ankle bones of the foot, which may result in excessive stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
The severity of the sprain can impact the degree of damage as well as the type and duration of treatment. Primary symptoms of ankle sprains are pain following a twist or injury, swelling and bruising.
Problems If Sprain Isn't Properly Treated
If not properly treated, ankle sprains may develop into long-term problems such as chronic ankle instability, a condition marked by persistent discomfort and a giving way of the ankle. Weakness in the leg may also develop.
Other reasons for getting an ankle sprain checked out:
A more severe ankle injury may have occurred along with the sprain. This might include a serious bone fracture that, if left untreated, could lead to troubling complications. An ankle sprain may be accompanied by a foot injury that causes discomfort but has gone unnoticed. Rehabilitation of a sprained ankle needs to begin right away. If rehabilitation is delayed, the injury may be less likely to heal properly.
Your podiatrist will recommend one of the following non-surgical treatment options:
- Rest. Stay off the injured ankle. Walking may cause further injury.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack to the injured area, placing a thin towel between the ice and the skin. Use ice for 20 minutes and then wait at least 40 minutes before icing again.
- Compression. An elastic wrap may be used to control swelling.
- Elevation. The ankle should be raised slightly above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
- Early physical therapy. Your doctor will start you on a rehabilitation program as soon as possible to promote healing and increase your range of motion. This includes doing prescribed exercises.
- Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, prescription pain medications are needed to provide adequate relief.
- MLS laser therapy. This newest treatment with laser can reduce inflammation and heal your injury more quickly than other methods.
Surgery may be required to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments.
To prevent ankle sprains, try to maintain strength, balance, and flexibility in the foot and ankle through exercise and stretching, and wearing well-fitted shoes.
To make an appointment with the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City, all us at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.