Ankle Sprain and Treatments

If you are like me or the other 25,000 people in the US who suffer an ankle sprain each day, then you have suffered through the recovery of an ankle injury. More than 1 million Americans present to emergency rooms annually because of ankle injuries. Approximately one-half of ankle injuries occur during athletic activity. Adolescents age 10-19 have 1.5x greater incidence of ankle sprains than the general population. Increased activity during summer months also escalates incidence and risk of injuring the foot and ankle.

Overview

Ligaments are elastic structures that extend between bones to hold and support joints in proper position. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched beyond their normal range of motion. When the ligament is stretched beyond its limit, it will rupture or even pull a small piece of bone loose. This is called an avulsion fracture. The large majority (85%) of ankle injuries are inversion; when the foot turns in and rolls “under” the leg. This causes injury to the ligaments on the outside/lateral aspect of the ankle.

Severity

Ankle sprains are graded on the severity of the injury; Defined as Grade 1, 2, or 3.

Treatment

Grade 1: R.I.C.E. therapy, limit activity, walking as tolerated, and begin range of motion exercises when pain has improved and physical therapy.

Grade 2: R.I.C.E. therapy. Immobilize with brace or splint for 1-2 weeks, then begin range of motion exercises when pain has improved and physical therapy.
Grade 3: R.I.C.E therapy. Increased immobilization period – cast or cast boot. Aggressive physical therapy. May have associated or prolonged injury.

  • R – REST: Limit activity, avoid walking and running.
  • I – ICE: Apply immediately following injury. Continue for 20 min several times daily over the next week until swelling/edema resolves.
  • C – COMPRESSION: Ace wraps, compression sleeve, and lace-up brace help reduce swelling and pain.
  • E – ELEVATION: Elevate the ankle above the level of your heart for at least the first 2-3 days.

When to see a foot & ankle specialist

It is important to be evaluated by specialist if pain and inability to perform normal activity continues after the injury or if you have experienced multiple or recurrent ankle sprains. This may be a sign of an underlying more serious injury or chronic instability.

Prevention

The best way to prevent any injury is maintain proper strength, flexibility, and muscle balance.

  • Warm up and stretch properly before physical activity.
  • Be cautious when walking, working, and exercising on uneven surfaces.
  • Wear proper supportive shoe gear.

A thorough examination by a foot & ankle specialist can determine any risk factors for injury. Providing personalized advice for injury prevention can help everyone enjoy his or her favorite activities.

For an appointment with one of our doctors at one of our nine Southern California locations please call 877-989-9110 or click to make your appointment online.

The UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!

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