The Causes Of A Sprained Ankle
Unfortunately, a sprained ankle can be caused by a number of activities. While many ankle sprains happen because of athletic events, you could also sprain your ankle by slipping as you step over a curb. Ankle sprains occur whenever your ankle is forced into an unnatural position or movement. This forced movement causes your ligaments to become stretched and torn, which is why you experience pain.
An ankle sprain may happen if you walk, run or exercise on an uneven surface. Sometimes, people sprain their ankle because they twisted it as they tripped or fell. If you have a hard landing after you jump or pivot, it could harm your ankle. Likewise, you may get an ankle sprain if someone steps on your foot while you are playing sports.
Your shoes play a huge role in causing ankle sprains. If your shoes do not fit correctly, your ankles are more vulnerable to sprains. In addition, wearing high-heeled shoes can make sprains more likely to happen.
Schedule A Consultation With Our Orthopedic Team In Flower Mound And Denton
Whether you recently sprained your ankle or you are dealing with chronic pain from old injuries, our team is here to help you find relief. We take an integrative approach to promote healing and speed up your recovery time.
Our goal is to get you back on the sports field or back to your regular activities as safely as possible.
For more information about available services, talk to us at Orthopedic Associates- located in Flower Mound and Denton, TX. Our full-service team is here to help with your recovery. Contact our office if you would like to book an appointment.
Treatment Recommendations at Home
Surgery For A Sprained Ankle
Its very unlikely youll need to have surgery for a sprained ankle. But if your ankle is badly sprained or isnt getting any better, your GP may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon for assessment. They will advise whether or not surgery may be beneficial for you. Youre more likely to need surgery if you play sports or are an athlete at a professional level.
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How To Treat Your Injured Ankle
An ankle sprain is a common injury and involves injury to the ligaments that support the ankle joint.
Approximately 2 million incidences of ankle sprain injuries will present to A& E each year.
Most ankle sprains will heal within a few weeks but it is important to follow a few simple rules to aid this process and help prevent further injury.
The ankle joint is supported by ligaments which help to keep the joint stable. These ankle ligaments could be injured to varying degrees when you sprain your ankle.
These ligaments could be stretched or torn when you twist or roll your ankle.
Following injury, your ankle may be swollen, bruised, painful or stiff. In order to help the natural healing process, follow the advice below.
What Are The Complications Of A Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle can lead to many complications if it is not properly rested and managed. These complications include chronic pain, joint instability, arthritis, and complex regional pain syndrome. A sprained ankle can become a long-term disability that limits your ability to walk or even stand without proper treatment. If you have suffered a sprained ankle, it is important to seek medical attention to receive the proper care and rehabilitation.
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Can I Go Back To Sports
If you have an ankle sprain, you’ll probably need to take some time off from sports and other strenuous physical activities. Make sure your sprained ankle is completely healed first.
You can go back when:
- The swelling goes down.
- The sport does not cause pain.
- The doctor says it’s OK.
- You can bear weight without a limp.
- You have your full range of motion.
- Your strength returns to normal.
Nourish Your Body As It Heals
Of course, if your body is going to build stronger tissue, it needs building blocks. Medical nutrition helps you create a customized plan to give your body what it needs to stay healthy and strong under any circumstances including after injury!
Since a sprain damages your ligament, collagen wound healing can help speed the process along. Getting plenty of collagen gives your body the exact building blocks it needs to repair ligaments, which are mostly made of collagen.
Nourishment is often left out of advice on how to heal a sprained ankle fast, but its one of the most critical things you can do. Eating food for healthy joints can help your body repair and strengthen joints all over your body, both now and in the future.
Youll also want to stay well-hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Remember, your body is rebuilding an important tissue, and its hard work!
Your body doesnt make new cells to repair itself out of nothing. Poor nutrition causes delayed wound healing and makes your body more susceptible to re-injury later.
Fortunately, getting plenty of protein and eating anti-inflammatory foods like cruciferous veggies, garlic, turmeric, and Omega-3 fatty acids gives your body everything it needs to rebuild.
Taking collagen for joints, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and practicing range of motion exercises are all easy ways to start caring for your joints before an injury, as well as recovering afterward.
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How Can You Prevent A Sprained Ankle
Avoid a sprained ankle by:
- Keep your ankles strong and flexible with strengthening exercises.
- Wear the right shoes appropriate for an activity. Avoid high-heeled shoes when possible.
- Tape a weak ankle for added support or wear an ankle brace during sports activities.
- Warm up before you exercise or play sports.
- Watch where you walk or run to avoid uneven surfaces.
If you suspect you have an ankle sprain and are looking for treatment options, make an appointment today with one of our NY Orthopedics locations in New York City. Our Centers of Excellence offer top-level orthopedic treatment for any concerns about your ankle and other joints, all in one location.
Anatomy Of An Ankle Sprain
The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion injury, or lateral ankle sprain. The foot rolls inward, damaging the ligaments of the outer ankle the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament.
Less common are sprains affecting the ligaments of the inner ankle and syndesmotic sprains, which injure the tibiofibular ligaments the ligaments that join the two leg bones just above the ankle. Syndesmotic sprains, which occur most often in contact sports, are especially likely to cause chronic ankle instability and subsequent sprains.
The severity of an ankle sprain depends on how much damage it does and how unstable the joint becomes as a result. The more severe the sprain, the longer the recovery .
Grades of ankle sprain severity
Mild pain, swelling, and tenderness. Usually no bruising. No joint instability. No difficulty bearing weight.
Moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness. Possible bruising. Mild to moderate joint instability. Some loss of range of motion and function. Pain with weight bearing and walking.
Full tear or rupture
Severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising. Considerable instability, loss of function and range of motion. Unable to bear weight or walk.
Up to several months
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More About Your Injury
There are 3 grades of ankle sprains:
- Grade I sprains: Your ligaments are stretched. It is a mild injury that can improve with some light stretching.
- Grade II sprains: Your ligaments are partially torn. You may need to wear a splint or a cast.
- Grade III sprains: Your ligaments are fully torn. You may need surgery for this severe injury.
The last 2 kinds of sprains are often associated with tearing of small blood vessels. This allows blood to leak into tissues and cause black and blue color in the area. The blood may not appear for several days. Most of the time, it is absorbed from the tissues within 2 weeks.
If your sprain is more severe:
- You may feel strong pain and have a lot of swelling.
- You may not be able to walk, or walking may be painful.
Some ankle sprains may become chronic . If this happens to you, your ankle may continue to be:
- Painful and swollen
- Weak or giving way easily
When To See Your Doctor
Unless your symptoms are mild or improving soon after the injury, contact your clinician. He or she may want to see you immediately if your pain and swelling are severe, or if the ankle feels numb or won’t bear weight. He or she will examine the ankle and foot and may manipulate them in various ways to determine the type of sprain and the extent of injury. This examination may be delayed for a few days until swelling and pain improve in the meantime, continue with the RICE regimen.
X-rays aren’t routinely used to evaluate ankle injuries. Ligament problems are the source of most ankle pain, and ligaments don’t show up on regular x-rays. To screen for fracture, clinicians use a set of rules called the Ottawa ankle rules, after the Canadian team that developed them to identify areas of the foot where pain, tenderness, and inability to bear weight suggest a fracture. A review of studies involving more than 15,000 patients concluded that the Ottawa rules identified patients with ankle fractures more than 95% of the time.
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Start Gentle Exercise Asap
Getting gentle exercise can help your ankle heal itself to be even stronger than before. Within the first 1-3 days, youll want to start doing some gentle movement with your ankle.
Walking around the house as normal can be helpful, as long as you dont have too many stairs to deal with. If you do have a lot of stairs or dont feel ready to do a lot of walking, try some sedentary exercises.
Start by drawing 10-15 clockwise circles with your toes and then switch to counterclockwise. Then, as your ankle heals, try writing the alphabet in the air with your toes.
When it comes to how to heal a sprained ankle fast, the more you can move it, the better! Moving your ankle tells your body that you need this joint in top condition, encouraging it to build stronger tissue.
It can be very helpful to visit a physical therapist to get a targeted exercise program for how to heal a sprained ankle fast.
How To Treat Different Types Of Ankle Sprains
For all of the different types of ankle sprains, treatment is largely the same. Regardless of severity, all ankle sprains should be treated with R.I.C.E: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- Rest: Stay off of the afflicted ankle and allow time for the body to repair itself. This means no sports or other explosive movements and even the use of crutches in more severe cases.
- Ice: Use ice packs to reduce swelling, and a towel to protect your skin from the ice. Applying ice should be done several times a day, in 15-20 minute increments.
- Compression: Keep the sprained ankle wrapped in bandages or a brace. This provides support, as well as prevents any motions that may aggravate the injury.
- Elevation: The injured ankle should be propped up when sitting or laying down so that blood may flow easier. A good rule of thumb is that the foot should be elevated to at least heart-level, preferably above.
In most non-severe cases, following the R.I.C.E. approach for 48 hours will yield significant healing, but if the ankle pain still persists, anti-inflammatory medication can also help relieve some of the pain and swelling caused by the sprain.
Physical therapy is another way to treat sprained ankles, though only after the swelling has gone down. In the case of grade 1 and some grade 2 sprains, light walking combined with stretching can help in the recovery process, though the same cannot be said for more severe sprains.
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Exercise And Movement For A Sprained Ankle
You may need to briefly rest your ankle after youve injured it. But its usually best to start moving it again and do some gentle exercises as soon as you can. This will help your ankle to get back to normal more quickly than keeping it still. Your doctor or physiotherapist may give you something to protect your ankle while youre moving it, like a brace or splint, if you need it.
If you have a particularly bad sprain, your doctor or physiotherapist may advise you to wear a cast, splint or brace to immobilise your ankle for a few days. This may help to reduce any pain and swelling around your ankle. Youll be advised to start moving and exercising your ankle once the period of immobilisation is over.
If youre at all worried about doing exercises or feel any pain, stop and speak to a doctor, nurse or physiotherapist before continuing. If youre not sure when and how to start exercising your ankle, you can check this with a doctor or physiotherapist.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From An Ankle Sprain
It depends on the severity of the ankle sprain, but it usually takes a few weeks to recover from an ankle sprain. This time is needed for the ankle to heal properly.
If it is more severe, it may take a few months for the ankle to heal sufficiently. They can range in intensity and take different amounts of time to recover.
Healing time depends on the level of injury and may include medication, physical therapy, and stability devices.
The total process takes 2-8 weeks and may take longer for those with more serious injuries. It may take up to 12 weeks for full post-operative recovery from the brutal Grade III.
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Here Are A Few Tips To Speed Up Recovery For A Sprained Ankle:
- Heat: When the swelling has gone down, it can sometimes be helpful to use heat on the injury. This at-home treatment increases blood flow to the injured area and can also ease tension, pain, and tight muscles.
- Physical Therapy: Stretching and gentle exercises can help to keep the muscles limber and strong, which is beneficial during recovery. Consider a few visits with a physical therapist as well as a consistent schedule at home to follow the recommended exercises. Always be careful to avoid overextending the ankle in the movements you are using.
- Walking: Did you know that walking can promote healing for a sprained ankle? In the first few days, you should stay off the foot. As the swelling decreases and the ankle starts to heal, short distance walking can be good for your recovery. Start slowly and gradually build up your distance and endurance.
Are You Looking For An Ankle And Foot Injury Physician You Can Trust
Injuries to the foot and ankle are among one of the most frequently occurring musculoskeletal injuries. The ankle can be injured doing fairly simple tasks such as walking on uneven surfaces, but its usually more severe when people play sports sprains or fractures often result from these activities. Dr. Stephen Chen is a specialist in treating foot and ankle injuries for athletes and active adults throughout the San Francisco East Bay Area. He provided sideline coverage for NCAA Division I athletics at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University . Since graduating, Dr. Chen has continued his love of sports coverage by volunteering for the San Francisco Marathon, the San Francisco Giant Race, and as the team physician for Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. Being a part of The Center for Sports Medicine allows Dr. Chen quick access to a multidisciplinary team of orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, physiatrists, and physical therapists to return you to your highest functional level quickly and safely.
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Sprained Ankle Self Treatment
Now, beyond P.R.I.C.E, there are a number of things you can do which will help your sprained ankle to heal faster.
The first tip is to work on maintaining your pain free range of ankle movement as soon as possible. Actively moving your ankle through a pain free range of movement will help you to maintain as much strength as possible in the surrounding muscles. In comparison, complete immobilisation of the ankle will cause these muscles to lose strength much faster.
Doctor Jo does a great job of demonstrating some of these exercises in this video:
The second tip is for later in the healing process. As your ankle ligaments begin to heal, and the swelling is reducing, you can begin some cross-friction massage to help breakdown scar tissue and promote proper healing of the ligament tissue.
Physiotherapists Bob & Brad will teach you how to perform this type of cross-friction massage in this great video:
Rehab exercises focused on single leg balance will help you to rebuild your proprioception and active stability around the injured ankle.
In fact, when ankle sprains are just left to heal naturally with no treatment and rehab exercises, we often encounter problems further in the future.
Ankle Sprain Recovery Time Based On Severity Of Injury
Ankle sprain recovery time is between 4 days to 3 months depending on the severity, diagnosis and treatment options you have available to you.
Proper diagnosis and treatment is critical to ensuring quick turn around and preventing and long-term issues like chronic ankle instability or post traumatic osteoarthritis.
There is a range of seriousness for sprained ankles, with most cases taking 3 weeks to 6 months to heal depending on the type of the injury.
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