Ligaments in the ankle bind bones and the ankle joint together, providing it with stability and limiting its lateral movement. Unlike strains, which are damage to the muscles, ankle sprains are injuries to the ankle’s ligaments, usually on the outside of the ankle. Damage to these ligaments is usually caused by a traumatic event – a fall, twist or impact – and can range in severity depending on whether the damaged ligament(s) is stretched, partially torn or completely torn.
You may be able to identify an ankle sprain because of a combination of symptoms, usually after a traumatic event. These include pain and soreness, swelling, bruising, difficulty or unsteadiness walking and stiffness in the joint. If you have had previous ankle injuries or weak ankles, it may not be surprising that you would sprain your ankle.
The bottom line with ankle sprains is that they must be treated in a proper manner. Without treatment, an ankle that was sprained can become weak and lead to chronic ankle instability. While these soft tissue injuries are often short of a tear, they still need to be immobilized for a number of weeks, depending on how bad of a sprain it is. Without visiting your podiatrist for a diagnosis, other related injuries or underlying conditions may go undetected leading to complications and further or prolonged injuries – like repeatedly spraining the same ankle.
Your podiatrist will most likely give you a walking boot in order to immobilize your ankle. A variety of treatment options are recommended for ankle sprains, including RICE and NSAIDs. Early physical therapy that works on your ankle’s range of motion will promote healing and increase the injured ankle’s rehabilitation. Surgery may be required in severe cases in which a ligament, or multiple ligaments, has been damaged. It is essential for the long-term health of your ankle that you find the proper treatment regimen for you injury.