An ankle sprain is one of the most common orthopedic injuries that occur. It is estimated that across North America more than 25,000 people sprain their ankles every day.
Ankle sprains are caused by an unnatural twisting of the ankle joint. It may be caused by awkwardly stepping off a curb, stepping in a hole or on some other prominence on the ground such as a rock, tree root or clump of dirt. In sports, it most commonly occurs when the athlete comes down on the side of another player’s foot while running or jumping. The pain will be sudden with bruising and swelling starting within minutes, depending on the severity of the injury.
Ice is the best thing to put on a sprained ankle. The cold will help keep the swelling down. We like to treat injuries using the R.I.C.E principle:
R: Rest the injured ankle
I: Ice application
C: Compression with an ACE wrap
E: Elevate the foot
R.I.C.E will help keep the swelling down and reduce pain.
A physical examination and X-ray are required to determine if the ankle is broken. A small crack is commonly treated with a removable cast walking boot. A badly broken ankle might require surgery to put the pieces back together.
A ligament is like a rubber band that connects the ankle bone to the foot bone. In severe ankle sprains, these rubber band like ligaments might be stretched or torn apart. If that happens, the ankle will be weak and prone to more sprains. The loose, torn ligaments can be repaired with a minor outpatient procedure. If you have weak ankles and have suffered multiple sprains, then you need to be seen quickly in order to fix the problem.
Besides the pain that occurs with repeated ankle sprains, the instability of the ankle joint will cause the cartilage to wear out leading to early joint arthritis. Ankle joint arthritis is to be avoided at all costs, because if that happens, the pain will be present ALL THE TIME, not just when it is sprained. Early ankle joint arthritis can be avoided by having the torn ligaments repaired. This is a relatively simple procedure performed as an outpatient surgery, which means that you go home right away.
That will depend on the severity of the injury and your own physical health. Minor injuries may feel better within a week, while bad injuries could take a few months to fully heal. For the serious athlete, we like to initiate physical therapy rehab immediately. In our practice, the goal is to get the athlete healed from their injury ASAP so they may get back to performing their sport at a high, competitive level. If you have sprained your ankle and cannot lift your foot or toes, you may have drop foot. Call Dr. Kevin Powers at his office in Bloomington, IN, at (812) 333-4422 to make an appointment.