An ankle sprain is an injury that involves one or several ankle ligaments, usually on the exterior part of the ankle. Within the ankle joint, the ligaments provide stability by restricting side-to-side movement. The seriousness of sprain is based on whether the ligament is strained, partly torn or fully ripped as well as the number of ligaments affected.
An ankle sprain often occurs after sudden twisting movements, a fall or a direct blow or strike that drives the joint out of its normal alignment. The injury typically occurs during sports, wearing incorrect footwear or running or jumping on uneven surfaces. In some instances, the injury occurs since the individual is born with weak ankles. In addition, previous foot or ankle injuries can lead to the weakening of the joint.
What are the indications?
The general indications of an ankle sprain include:
- Soreness or pain
- Joint rigidity or stiffness
- Difficulty walking
Always bear in mind that these symptoms might vary in intensity depending on the severity of the injury. Oftentimes, pain and swelling are not evident among those with previous sprains.
In such instances, they might feel that the ankle is rocky and unsteady while walking. Even if pain and swelling are absent, treatment is vital. Any ankle sprain, especially if it has occurred several times necessitates immediate medical care.
Management of an ankle sprain
If an individual has an ankle sprain, rehabilitation is vital and started once treatment is initiated. The doctor might suggest one or several of the following:
- Rest by staying off the affected ankle since walking will only lead to further injury
- Ice – apply an ice pack on the site of injury for 20 minutes at a time
- Compression – an elastic wrap can be utilized to minimize the swelling
- Elevation – the affected ankle must be raised slightly above the level of the heart to minimize the swelling.
- Physical therapy – the doctor will start a rehabilitation program as soon as possible to promote healing and improve the range of motion
- Medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) might be given to minimize the inflammation and pain. In some cases, prescribed pain medications are used to ensure adequate relief.
Is surgery required?
In serious cases, surgery is needed to properly manage an ankle sprain. Surgical intervention often involves fixing the damaged ligament. The doctor will choose the suitable procedure to perform.
After surgery, rehabilitation is a vital part of treatment. Completing the rehabilitation program is essential for a successful outcome. Regular follow-up appointments with the doctor is necessary during this period to ensure that the joint properly heals and function is restored.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on an ankle sprain is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage sprains by taking a standard first aid course with Saskatoon First Aid.