While the majority of sprained ankles occur as a result of sports or other vigorous activities, sprained ankles can happen at any time to anyone regardless of their age or activity level. Spraining an ankle occurs when the foot twists, turns, or rolls unnaturally, stretching ankle ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. When ligaments, elastic structures that provide stability for bones and joints, move abnormally, pain and inflammation follow. If the injury involves extreme force the ligaments can stretch far enough to partially or completely tear, causing instability and loose tendons.
How are Ankle Sprains Diagnosed?
Although ankle sprains can happen in a variety of ways and can involve the foot turning inwards (inversion ankle sprain) or outwards (eversion ankle sprain), ankle sprains are categorized by the severity of the damage to the ankle ligaments.
Grade 1 Sprains: involve a stretching of the ligaments affected. Patients who suffer a grade one sprain may be limited slightly in their activities due to pain and swelling.
Grade 2 Sprains: involve a partial tearing of the ligaments. Pain and swelling are typically more severe and the ankle has bruising and discoloration. Patients with a grade two sprain may have difficulty walking due to pain and ankle instability.
Grade 3 Sprains: involve a complete tear of the ligaments. Pain, swelling and, bruising would be severe. Patients with a grade three sprain may be unable to walk as the ankle has no stability and is likely to give way.
Sprained Ankle Treatment
As expected, the type of treatment plan for ankle sprains is related to the severity of the injury. For grade one sprains, which are more common, our doctors recommend that after an examination patients rest, ice, compress, and elevate their injured ankle. Patients would also be prescribed a variety of physical therapy exercises to perform in order to strengthen their joint.
For grade two and grade three sprains, our physicians at American Foot and Leg Specialists would likely immobilize the ankle with a wrap or splint. Patients would also follow a regimen of physical therapy exercises as well as rest, ice, compress, and elevate their ankle. For grade three sprains, immobilization of the joint would last much longer, and in extreme cases surgical reconstruction of the ligaments could be performed.