Ankle sprains can happen suddenly when you step off a curb, roll your ankle during a run, or experience a hard landing after a vertical jump while playing sports. Sprains differ in symptoms and severity, but your foot and ankle specialist can determine the exact nature of your injury and help you recover. In this blog, we will discuss grading ankle sprains and treatments strategies to get you moving well again.
Symptoms and Severity of Ankle Sprains
An ankle sprain involves a sudden overstretching or tearing of the ligaments which support and move this important joint. Ankle sprains can be anywhere from mild to disabling involve noticeable symptoms such as:
- Ankle pain
- Limited ability or inability to place weight on the foot and walk
When your foot and ankle doctor inspects your ankle injury, they will take notice of its appearance and your described level of pain. Additionally, they will have you undergo onsite imaging like digital X-rays. However, your podiatrist may also order an MRI to get a better visual of the injury.
Then, the foot and ankle doctor will grade your ankle sprain. Sprains can be classified as:
- Grade one–a mild sprain with limited ankle pain and swelling due some stretching of the ankle ligaments
- Grade two–a moderate sprain involving more noticeable symptoms and some limited tearing of the ligaments
- Grade three–the most painful, swollen and mobility-limiting sprain in which the ligaments are severely torn
Podiatrists can also often see high ankle sprains in athletes who play basketball, football or other high stop and start contact sports. While most ankle sprains result from a stretching force on the outside of the ankle, high ankle sprains happen when the ligament between the two leg bones stretch or tear with a twisting motion.
High ankle sprains can require surgical repair as can repeated ankle sprains of any kind or severity.
Recovery Strategies For Ankle Sprains
As soon as a painful ankle injury occurs, apply the traditional RICE protocol:
- Rest the ankle
- Ice it
- Compress using a compression bandage for support and to limit swelling
- Elevate the ankle at heart level
Persistent ankle pain and other symptoms–particularly the inability to walk– warrant a trip to the podiatrist’s office for evaluation and a customized plan of recovery.
Other treatment strategies include:
- Use of ankle braces, crutches and/or customized shoe orthotics
- Physical therapy to include stretching and strengthening exercises
- Surgical repair
Additionally, to prevent sprains, be sure to warm up and stretch for at least 10 to 15 minutes before taking a run, doing an aerobics workout, or playing
your favorite sport. Take ibuprofen for pain and to decrease swelling and tenderness which may develop as you use your recovering ankle.
Finally, be patient with your progress. The more careful you are during the recovery phase of your ankle sprain, the better healing you will experience.
Treatment for Ankle Pain in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. However, know that you can experience healing for any type and severity of ankle sprain under the care of the podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Institute of New England.
Drs. Gallucci, Criscione, and Rogers treat people of all ages and activity levels, helping their ankle to recover and repair. They also recommend preventive strategies to strengthen the lower extremities, keeping patients mobile, pain-free, and active.
Learn more about how to treat ankle sprains and other podiatric injuries and conditions by selecting one of our three offices and calling us for an in-person visit. We are located in Dartmouth, MA, Middletown, RI and Warwick, RI. You can also arrange your appointment by filling in our online contact form. We look forward to talking with you in-person.