Should I Go To The Hospital For A Sprained Ankle
Go to urgent care if your pain level and swelling is significant and you have difficulty walking, to the point that you need assistance, due to the pain. Go to the emergency room if your foot is bruised, deformed, or you are unable to walk at all. You may have a fracture, broken bone or serious ligament damage.
How Long Does Swelling Last After An Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries out thereand can be very serious, depending on the grade of the injury. A sprained ankle cannot only cause severe and lasting pain, but if not treated properly, it can lead to further damage to this important joint.
If you have ever sprained an ankle before, one of the first signs that something is awry will likely be the swelling. Since you are damaging the ligaments around the ankle with an ankle sprain, the joint can get quite swollen and black and blue. But how long should you expect this swelling to last?
It all depends on a few different factors, including the severity of your ankle injury.
What Is A Sprained Ankle
Your ankle joint connects your foot with your lower leg. Three ligaments keep your ankle bones from shifting out of place. A sprained ankle is when one of these ligaments is stretched too far or torn.
Doctors grade ankle sprains by how severe they are:
- Mild . Your ligaments are stretched but not torn. Your ankle still feels stable. You may have some pain and stiffness.
- Moderate . One or more ligaments are partially torn. The joint isnât totally stable, and you canât move it as much as usual. You have swelling and moderate pain.
- Severe . One or more ligaments are totally torn, and your ankle is unstable. You have a lot of pain and canât move it.
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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
Treatment Options For Ankle Sprains
At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, treatment options for ankle injuries include PRP and stem cells. PRP is rich in growth factors that can improve blood flow and accelerated healing. There are three important phases of ligament healing which include acute inflammation, proliferative, and tissue remodeling. Each phase occurs over different time periods. To learn more about how ligaments respond to PRP and stem cell injections, please click on the video below.
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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.
How To Treat A Sprained Ankle
The first goal is to decrease pain and swelling and protect the ligaments from further injury. This usually means adopting the classic RICE regimen rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If you have severe pain and swelling, rest your ankle as much as possible for the first 2448 hours. During that time, immerse your foot and ankle in cold water, or apply an ice pack for 1520 minutes three times a day, or until the swelling starts to subside.
To reduce swelling, compress the ankle with an elasticized wrap, such as an ACE bandage or elastic ankle sleeve. When seated, elevate your ankle as high as you comfortably can to the height of your hip, if possible. In the first 24 hours, avoid anything that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot packs, or heat rubs.
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Will My Sprained Ankle Ever Heal
Treating Injured Ankles With the right treatment plan such as rest, ice, elevation, and compression, mild ankle sprains usually can heal on their own within two to twelve weeks. Of course, it all depends on the severity of your ankle injury and the level of pain and instability you are experiencing.
How To Strengthen Your Ankle After A Sprain
To recover from an ankle sprain fully, you’ll need to restore the normal range of motion to your ankle joint and strengthen its ligaments and supporting muscles. Studies have shown that people return to their normal activities sooner when their treatment emphasizes restoring ankle function often with the aid of splints, braces, taping, or elastic bandages rather than immobilization . Called functional treatment, this strategy usually involves three phases: the RICE regimen in the first 24 hours to reduce pain, swelling, and risk of further injury range-of-motion and ankle strengthening exercises within 4872 hours and training to improve endurance and balance once recovery is well under way.
Generally, you can begin range-of-motion and stretching exercises within the first 48 hours and should continue until you’re as free of pain as you were before your sprain. Start to exercise seated on a chair or on the floor. As your sprained ankle improves, you can progress to standing exercises. If your symptoms aren’t better in two to four weeks, you may need to see a physical therapist or other specialist.
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What Causes Ankle Sprains
Most types of ankle sprains happen when you make a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted, such as when you play soccer or get tackled in football. Often the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and tear. Less often, the ankle rolls inward and the foot turns outward. This damages the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
An ankle sprain can range from mild to severe, depending on how badly the ligament is damaged and how many ligaments are injured. With a mild sprain, the ankle may be tender, swollen, and stiff. But it usually feels stable, and you can walk with little pain. A more serious sprain might include bruising and tenderness around the ankle, and walking is painful. In a severe ankle sprain, the ankle is unstable and may feel “wobbly.” You can’t walk, because the ankle gives out and may be very painful.
When Should I Seek Medical Help
You dont always need to seek medical help for a sprained ankle. You can usually treat a mild ankle sprain by following some self-care measures at home. See our section on self-help below for more information on this. But if your sprain is very bad, you may need medical attention. Its possible you may have damaged other parts of your ankle such as the bones or tendons. And it can be difficult to distinguish between a very bad sprain and a fracture without an X-ray.
Seek medical attention straight away if your ankle is too painful to stand on, seems deformed or your skin is broken. You can usually go to an urgent treatment centre or minor injury unit for injuries like these, but phone NHS 111 if youre not sure. You should also have your ankle checked out if the pain and swelling dont improve or they get worse after a few days.
If you keep spraining your ankle or it feels unstable, make an appointment to see your GP or a physiotherapist.
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Recovering From An Ankle Sprain
All it takes is a simple misstep, and suddenly you have a sprained ankle. An ankle sprain is one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in people of all ages, athletes and couch potatoes alike. The injury occurs when one or more of the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn, causing pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Many people try to tough out ankle injuries and don’t seek medical attention. But if an ankle sprain causes more than slight pain and swelling, it’s important to see a clinician. Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a severely injured ankle may not heal well and could lose its range of motion and stability, resulting in recurrent sprains and more downtime in the future.
How Are Ankle Sprains Treated
Treatment for an ankle sprain usually includes:
- protecting the ankle by taping, wearing a lace-up ankle brace, or ankle splint
- rest to prevent reinjury and limit swelling. How long somebody needs to take it easy depends on the injury. If no ligaments tore, 1014 days might be long enough.
- treatments to help with swelling such as:
- ice wrapped in a towel placed on the area for about 20 minutes every 12 hours
- an elastic bandage wrapped around the area or elastic sleeve to provide compression
- raising the injured area
Doctors may treat a more serious ankle sprain with a splint or temporary cast. Very rarely, a person might need surgery.
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Different Types Of Ankle Sprains
Ligaments are thick pieces of connective tissue that connect bone to bone. Ligaments provide important stability for the ankle. Ligaments can be overstretched or torn. These injuries are called sprains. There are three types of ankle sprains
Grade 1 Sprain
A Grade 1 sprain involves the least amount of ligament injury. Ligaments are typically overstretched without tearing. Symptoms involve mild swelling and tenderness with no functional loss or instability . Go our blog, How to Treat Ankle Sprains, to learn more.
Grade 2 Sprain
These sprains are more severe than Grade 1. Ligaments are partially torn. Symptoms include moderate pain, swelling, tenderness, restricted range of motion, and joint instability. Read: Sprained Ankle: When Do You Need Surgery? for more information.
Grade 3 Sprain
This is the most severe injury and involves a complete tear of the ligament. Symptoms include marked swelling, bruising, and tenderness. There is severe loss of function with most patients being unable to bear weight. The ankle joint in a Grade 3 sprain is misaligned and unstable.
What Can I Expect If I Have A Sprained Ankle
After giving your ankle time to heal and treating the sprain according to your healthcare providers recommendations, you’ll be able to get back to regular activities. Your prognosis depends on your commitment to building strength back in your ankle through exercises and rehabilitation. If your ankle hasn’t healed completely or you stopped the strengthening exercises, your injured ligament could weaken and put you at risk for future ankle sprains.
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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.
Sprained Ankle Still Swollen After Nearly 2 Months
While running on an uneven trail I rolled my ankle. I iced/elevated it immediately after, but the next few days I unfortunately did not take care of it like I was supposed to. The next few days it became incredibly swollen and became bruised around the entire foot.
Answer by Dominique:When in doubt or experience prolonged periods of pain always go see a doctor.
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Diagnosis Of A Sprained Ankle
A doctor or physiotherapist will usually be able to diagnose a sprained ankle by asking about your symptoms and examining you. Theyll ask exactly how you hurt your ankle and if you could stand and walk afterwards. When they examine you, theyll check for pain, swelling and bruising around your ankle. They may also check how much you can move your ankle and if you can put any weight on your foot.
If your injury is particularly bad, your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend you have an X-ray to check whether or not your ankle is broken. Sometimes, they may also arrange ultrasound or MRI scans if they need a more detailed look at your ankle.
Sprained Ankle Recovery Time And What Affects It
Sprained ankle recovery time varies from case to case. If you are dealing with a normal sprained ankle, you shouldnt have to wait too long until youre healthy again. However, if youve done significant damage to the ankle, you could be resting it for a while. Heres a breakdown of what sprained ankle recovery time looks like, and what you should expect if you sprain your ankle.
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How Is A Sprained Ankle Treated
For the majority of ankle sprains, healthcare providers recommend using the PRICE method for the first 24-48 hours after injury. PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.
- Protection. Use crutches or apply a splint or brace to limit use of your injured ankle.
- Rest. Limit physical activities that may cause stress to the sprain .
- Ice. Apply ice or a cold pack in a towel to your ankle in 20-minute increments to reduce swelling.
- Compression. Gently wrap your ankle in an elastic bandage to help decrease swelling.
- Elevation. Raise your ankle on pillows while youre sitting or lying down so that it’s higher than your heart.
If your sprain is very painful and swollen or you’re having trouble walking and putting pressure on your ankle, visit your healthcare provider for treatment.
What Treatments Are Recommended For Mild Ankle Sprains
The main aim of treatment is to reduce painand swelling and promote healing. Mild ankle sprains can be self-managed, and you should employ the RICE approach for the first few days:
- Rest try to avoid activities that cause your ankle pain or discomfort
- Ice Apply ice to the affected area immediately after a sprain for at least 15 minutes. You can keep applying this every two to three hours to relieve pain.
- Compression You can use a bandage or stocking to compress the swelling. You should do this until the swelling has reduced. Try to not to wrap the ankle too tightly as this can inhibit proper blood circulation.
- Elevation elevating your ankle to hip level or above can help reduce swelling. You can use this technique at night while you sleep.
If you find it difficult to walk, you may find the use of crutches helps. Generally, it is better to move about as much as possible. In the past, patients were advised to bed rest, which now has been proven to be wrong – gentle movement and early mobilisation are required to help heal soft tissues. You should usually expect your ankle to improve after one week with pain & bruising improving first and swelling lagging behind a little dependent on your activity level.
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Sprains That Wont Go Away
Heres the text from the video.
This is a question I get in my office quite routinely. People have ankle sprains or they had ankle sprains in the past and they were told that sprains can be worse than a fracture. When you think about what happens when you sprain your ankle, its very similar to what happens when you fracture or break your ankle. When you sprain your ankle, you often roll it in the same manner as if you were to fracture it. The energy is absorbed by the soft tissues, rather than absorbed by the bones, and just because a bone doesnt break doesnt mean you dont feel the same amount of pain as if you had broken the bone.
Therefore, it is often still stiff and painful to walk on. You need to follow the recommendations of PRICE, which stands for Protective weight bearing, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation in order to let that sprained ankle to resolve.
If youre interested in sending your own ankle or foot question to Dr. Silverman, youre in luck. You can send him your question by typing it in the box below, and hell respond to you as quickly as possible.