Most of us are familiar with a simple misstep that causes ankle pain. That pain could be a sign that you have sprained your ankle. Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. It has been estimated that approximately 28,000 Americans sprain an ankle each day. Nearly 10 percent of emergency room visits account for ankle sprains.1
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn, causing pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Ankle sprains cause:
- Restricted range of motion
- Instability in the ankle
Usually, when experiencing a sprained ankle, walking or bearing weight on the ankle will be incredibly painful. Doctors grade ankle sprains by how severe they are: mild sprain ( grade 1), moderate (grade 2), and severe (grade 3). Nearly all isolated low ankle sprains can be treated without surgery. Even a complete ligament tear ( grade 3) may heal without surgical repair if it is immobilized and rehabilitated appropriately.
Many people try to tough out ankle injuries and don't seek medical attention. When a sprained ankle leaves you with more than slight pain and swelling, it is crucial to see a specialist. Some sprains heal independently, but treatment to strengthen the injured muscles can prevent future sprains. An orthopedic surgeon will identify and diagnose a sprained ankle after examining your foot and ankle to see the range of motion and determine which ligaments are affected, and imaging may be ordered.
Sprained Ankle Treatment:
- RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation is the first line of treatment for a sprained ankle.
- Anti-inflammatory pain medications - Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen work for most people.
- Physical therapy - helps with flexibility and strengthens the ankles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the ankle. Exercise programs to improve mobility of the joint
- Steroid injection - or cortisone shot - reduces swelling, stiffness, and pain in your foot and ankle. The steroid acts like the natural hormones your body makes to stop inflammation. It's a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment.
Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the injury. Call Dr. Bryant Ho if you have pain and swelling in your ankle and suspect a sprain.
Dr. Bryant S. Ho is board-certified in orthopedic surgery and is trained in the operative and non-operative management of adolescent and adult foot and ankle disorders. Dr. Ho places a strong emphasis on customizing his care for each patient to ensure successful outcomes. He provides all treatment options, including preventative care, conservative management, and operative intervention.