Ankle Sprains: Stretched Out Ligaments
It is likely you have felt the sting of an ankle rolling too far the wrong way. A slight misstep off a curb, tripping in the middle of the night, or an encounter in a sports game can cause a little twist. Pain and swelling are immediate, and the joint loses some stability. Even minor ankle sprains should be treated seriously. Quick treatment and proper healing will ensure your ankle health is restored and your risk for future injury is reduced.
Twists and Tears Lead to Tissue Damage
An ankle sprain occurs when the foot twists or rotates suddenly. We can compare the ligaments that hold the ankle in place to rubber bands. An unnatural twisting causes the ligaments, tendons, or muscles to stretch beyond their limits. This can result in excessive stretching or even tearing of one or more ligaments surrounding the ankle. The degree of damage will depend on the severity of the sprain, which can range from mild to severe at the moment of injury. A mild sprain that is not properly cared for could lead to further tissue damage and develop into a long-term problem.
Athletes are particularly at risk for this type of injury. Activities with rapid direction changes, sudden stops or starts, and jumping increase the risk for this kind of injury. Even stepping on uneven ground, though, could cause a sprain in a single moment. There are three degrees of sprains. Mild ones involve some stretching of the tissues and minor swelling. Medium sprains have partially torn tissues and swelling, and the ankle may feel loose when you try to move it. A severe sprain involves a ligament rupture, significant swelling, and a great degree of weakness in the joint.
Recover Quickly with Proactive Treatment
Even if your injury seems minor in nature, ankle sprains should never be ignored. They may seem minor at the outset, but they can cause significant pain and weakness later if not treated properly. There also situations where we have treated patients who believed their continuing pain was from a sprain, but an evaluation revealed an actual fracture. Foot pain is never normalalways find out the reason for it.
The type and duration of treatment will depend on the severity of the sprain. Dr. Aleisha Allen DPM can confirm through physical exam and diagnostic imaging whether your injury truly is a sprain and how severe the ligament damage is. From there, a tailored treatment plan to repair the damage will begin. A mild injury may only require a short period of rest from athletic activities or daily commitments that would put stress on the injured area. For more serious sprains, all weight bearing may need to be removed to provide optimal healing for the ankle. Serious ankle sprains may require surgery to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments. A wrap or compress is helpful in stabilizing the joint, and ice and anti-inflammatory medications are often used to manage swelling and pain. Keeping the ankle elevated when possible also helps to reduce swelling.
Once Your Ankle Heals
A slow and gentle return to activities can begin once Dr. Allen has confirmed the ligaments have sufficiently healed. With severe sprains we often suggest a period of physical therapy to strengthen weakened ligaments. No matter the degree, ignoring this type of treatment protocol can result in the ankle healing incorrectly. This can then lead to chronic weakness and a high vulnerability for future sprains and additional damage.
If you have sprained your ankle, dont push through the pain. We can provide relief and prevent future conditions by treating it now. For an appointment or more information, contact Dr. Aleisha Allen DPM of Houston Foot Specialists by calling (713) 467-8886, or visit the contact us page on our website.