Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. While they are not often serious enough to require surgery, they are painful and they do require proper treatment. Ignoring the proper care of an ankle sprain may lead to a worsening of the injury. It could take longer to heal or lead to a greater probability of the person re-injuring the ankle. If you or someone you know has suffered an ankle sprain, you probably have some questions that need to be answered so that proper care can be given.
How Can I Recognize an Ankle Sprain?
Pain and swelling in the ankle are the two most common symptoms of an ankle sprain. There may also be bruising. Walking, especially right after the injury, will likely be painful at best and, in some cases, impossible. With a severe sprain, you may hear a popping sound when the injury occurred. Every sprain should be assessed by a medical professional, but it is especially important to visit a doctor if you hear a popping sound.
It Doesn’t Hurt as Much as Last Time, So It’s Not Sprained, Right?
If you have had an ankle sprain before, you might assume that an ankle injury that looks or feels different from last time is not an ankle sprain, especially if the injury is significantly more or less painful than before. There are 3 grades of ankle sprains, so it could still be an ankle sprain.
Grade 1– Called a mild sprain, there will be slight stretching and possible microscopic tearing of the ligaments. The ankle may be slightly tender and/or slightly swollen.
Grade 2– Called a moderate sprain, there is partial tearing of the ligament, and the ankle will be moderately tender will with more swelling than would accompany a mild sprain. There may be abnormal looseness of the ankle joint.
Grade 3– A severe sprain includes a complete tear of the ligament, which is accompanied by significant tenderness and swelling of the ankle. With certain movements, the ankle will have significant instability.
How Should I Treat It?
Treatment of your injury will depend upon the grade of the injury and your doctor’s specific instructions. In general, the RICE plan (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) will be the best early treatment for your injury. You may also want to take anti-inflammatory pain medication if your overall health allows. With a more serious sprain, your doctor may tell you to not bear weight for a period of time before slowly returning to your normal activities, and you may require physical therapy.
If you suspect that you have an ankle sprain it is important to seek medical treatment immediately. At Sideline Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, we have the tools and the experience to diagnose and treat your sprain all in one place. Contact us at (540) 552-7133 to make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists.