An ankle sprain involves one or more injured ligaments most often on the outside of the ankle. Ligaments are tissues that connect one bone to another and bind the joints together, similar to rubber bands. This binding in the ankle provides stability by limiting side to side motion.
Ankle sprains vary in severity depending on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, completely torn and the number of ligaments involved. Sprains affect ligaments, whereas strains affect muscles.
Ankle sprains are mostly caused by a fall, a sudden twist or an impact that removes the ankle joint from its normal position. Walking or running on uneven surfaces, playing sports or wearing unstable shoes often lead to ankle sprains.
People born with weak ankles are often prone to ankle sprains. Previous injuries of the foot and ankle may also weaken the joint and result in sprains.
Symptoms of ankle sprains may include sprain, swelling, bruising, difficulty walking, joint stiffness and pain or soreness. These symptoms can be more or less intense depending on the extent of injury. Patients with previous ankle sprains may not have pain and swelling. Instead, they might only complain of the ankle feeling floppy and unstable when walking. Treatment is important in the presence or absence of pain and swelling. Every ankle sprain should be immediately evaluated, no matter how many times it has re-occurred.
An ankle sprain should be immediately evaluated and treated by Dr. Radovic for these important reasons:
In diagnosing an ankle sprain, Dr. Radovic will ask questions regarding your symptoms, and examine your foot and ankle. Dr. Radovic might order x-rays or other advanced imaging studies to determine the extent of injury.
Rehabilitation is extremely important in treating ankle sprains.
Dr. Radovic may recommend one or more of these non-surgical treatments:
Rest: Do not walk on the injured ankle to prevent further injury.
Ice: Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to the injured ankle. Ice the injury for 20 minutes, then allow the area to warm for at least 40 minutes before beginning the icing routine again.
Compression: Wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage to prevent swelling.
Elevation: Reduce swelling by elevating the ankle at or slightly above heart level.
Early physical therapy: Dr. Radovic will prescribe a physical therapy program immediately after injury to retrain the ligaments and increase range of motion. Therapy includes completing prescribed exercises.
Medications: Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to decrease pain and inflammation. Some patients may be prescribed pain medication for adequate relief.
Surgery might be necessary to adequately treat more severe cases of an ankle sprain. Dr. Radovic will repair the damaged ligament or ligaments with a procedure he selects based on individual activity level, type of injury and severity of injury.
Rehabilitation is a crucial component of a successful recovery after surgery. Dr. Radovic should be seen regularly during the recovery period to ensure that the ankle heals and functions properly.