Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch or tear. This injury commonly affects the ligaments on the outside of the ankle and can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the damage.

Common Symptoms

  • Pain: Immediate pain at the site of the injury, often on the outside of the ankle.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the ankle joint.
  • Bruising: Discoloration due to bleeding under the skin.
  • Limited Mobility: Difficulty moving the ankle and walking.
  • Tenderness: Sensitivity to touch or pressure on the affected area.
  • Instability: Feeling of the ankle giving way or being unstable.

Cause & Anatomy

  • Twisting or Rolling: Sudden twisting, rolling, or turning of the ankle, often during physical activity or sports.
  • Uneven Surfaces: Walking or running on uneven surfaces.
  • Falls: Tripping or falling, leading to an awkward landing on the foot.
  • Poor Footwear: Wearing inappropriate or ill-fitting shoes, particularly high heels.

Diagnosis

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Assessment of the injury mechanism and examination of the ankle to check for swelling, bruising, and range of motion.
  • X-rays: To rule out fractures.
  • MRI or Ultrasound: Used in severe cases to assess ligament damage and rule out other injuries.

Prevention

Proper Footwear:

  • Wear shoes that provide good support and fit well.

Warm-Up:

  • Always warm up before engaging in physical activity to prepare the muscles and ligaments.

Strengthening and Balance Exercises:

  • Regularly perform exercises to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and improve balance.

Be Cautious on Uneven Surfaces:

  • Pay attention to surfaces to avoid tripping or rolling the ankle.

Use Ankle Supports:

  • Consider using an ankle brace or taping if you have a history of ankle sprains, especially during high-risk activities.

Treatment – Immediate Care (R.I.C.E. Method)

Rest:

  • Avoid putting weight on the injured ankle. Use crutches if necessary.

Ice:

  • Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours during the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and pain.

Compression:

  • Use an elastic bandage or compression wrap to help control swelling. Ensure it’s snug but not too tight to restrict blood flow.

Elevation:

  • Keep the ankle elevated above heart level as much as possible to reduce swelling.

Medical Treatment

Medications:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to manage pain and inflammation.

Immobilization:

  • Using a brace, splint, or walking boot to stabilize the ankle and allow healing.

Physical Therapy:

  • Rehabilitation exercises to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion. This may include balance training to prevent future sprains.

Surgery

Rarely required, but may be necessary for severe sprains involving complete ligament tears or if there is significant instability.

Rehabilitation

Phase 1: Acute Phase

  • Focus on reducing swelling and pain through rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Phase 2: Early Rehabilitation

  • Gradual introduction of range-of-motion and gentle stretching exercises.

Phase 3: Strengthening

  • Incorporate strengthening exercises for the ankle and surrounding muscles to improve stability.

Phase 4: Functional Training

  • Balance and proprioception exercises, followed by sport-specific or activity-specific drills.

Phase 5: Return to Activity

  • Gradual return to normal activities and sports, ensuring the ankle is fully healed and strong.

FAQ’s

How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal?
Healing time varies depending on the severity of the sprain. Mild sprains may heal in 2-4 weeks, while more severe sprains can take 6-12 weeks or longer.

Can I walk on a sprained ankle?
It’s best to avoid walking on a sprained ankle initially to allow healing. Gradual weight-bearing can be resumed as pain and swelling decrease.

When should I see a doctor for a sprained ankle?
Seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, inability to bear weight, significant swelling, or if you suspect a fracture.

Can a sprained ankle lead to chronic problems?
Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a sprained ankle can lead to chronic instability, weakness, and an increased risk of future sprains.

Are there any home remedies for a sprained ankle?
The R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is effective for managing a sprained ankle at home. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help manage pain and inflammation.

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