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Ankle Sprain / Ankle Strain: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

In this short video, Dr. Stephanie Niño gives a brief overview of the causes and symptoms of ankle sprains. She then walks you through four easy exercises to help with ankle mobility and foot stability. If you’re experiencing pain related to an ankle sprain, don’t hesitate to contact Airrosti. Our goal is to get you back on your feet and pain free as quickly as possible. (Read our disclaimer here.)

What Causes An Ankle Sprain

A sprained ankle is a very common injury. It can happen when you take part in sports and other physical activities, but it can also happen when simply stepping on uneven surfaces or stepping down at an angle. Most people have experienced a twisted ankle at some point in their life. Pain and swelling are the most common signs that you have torn ankle ligaments and have sprained your ankle.

The ligaments of the ankle hold the bones and joint in position. They protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements, especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot. When a ligament is forced to stretch beyond its normal range, a sprain occurs. The most common ankle sprain occurs on the lateral, or outside, part of the ankle.

Some people are predisposed to ankle sprains. In people with a hindfoot varus, which means that the general nature or posture of the heels is slightly turned toward the inside, these injuries are more common. This is because it is easier to turn on the ankle.

In those who have had a severe sprain in the past, it is also easier to turn the ankle and cause a new sprain. Therefore, one of the risk factors of spraining the ankle is having ankle instability. Those who have weak muscles may be more predisposed. Risk factors also include those activities, such as basketball and jumping sports, in which an individual can come down on and turn the ankle.

What Are The Symptoms?

When a sprain occurs, blood vessels will leak fluid into the tissue that surrounds the joint. Along with inflammation, swelling from the fluid and ankle pain is experienced. The nerves in the area become more sensitive, so a throbbing pain is felt when pressure is placed on the area. Warmth and redness are also seen as blood flow is increased. Also present is a decreased range of motion, and difficulty using the affected leg. Depending on the severity of the sprain, a person may or may not be able to put weight on the foot. If it’s a severe sprain, you might have felt a “pop” when the injury happened.

If a sprain is not treated properly, long-term problems may occur. Typically the ankle is rolled either inward (inversion sprain) or outward (eversion sprain). Inversion sprains cause pain along the outer side of the ankle and are the most common type. Pain along the inner side of the ankle may represent more serious injuries to the ligaments or tendons and should always be evaluated by a doctor.

Sprains can be difficult to differentiate from fractures (broken bones) without an x-ray. If you are unable to bear weight after this type of injury, or if there is significant swelling or deformity, you should seek medical treatment from your primary care physician or a soft tissue specialist.

What Are The Traditional Treatment Options?

Sprains and strains are common among the athletic community. Unfortunately, the lengthy recovery process typically associated with traditional treatment of these injuries often negatively impacts an entire season and significantly derails training progress. Traditional treatment for ankles injuries usually includes rest and several weeks of physical therapy to rebuild strength and range of motion.

During the ankle sprain treatment and recovery period, patients are typically advised to avoid strenuous activity as there is a high occurrence of re-injury or the development of chronic problems.

Tell your doctor what you were doing when you sprained your ankle. Most ankle sprains do not require surgery, and mild sprains are best treated with a functional rehabilitation program. Depending on how many ligaments are injured, your sprain will be classified as Grade I, II or III.

The grade of the sprain dictates the treatment required,  as well as the patient’s ability to bear weight on the ankle. Those patients who cannot bear weight are often prescribed a removable walking boot until they can comfortably do so. High ankle sprains take considerably longer to heal than other sprains.

How Can Airrosti Help?

If you’re an athlete who can’t afford to sit on the sidelines for several weeks, or if you’re just a fitness enthusiast who loves staying active and healthy, consider Airrosti. Our quality care approach helps rapidly speed recovery of your injury, and most patients are able to return to activity immediately (even while treatment is still in progress).

Remember that, even though ankle sprains are common, they are not always minor injuries. Some people with repeated or severe sprains can develop long-term joint pain and weakness. Treating a sprained ankle can help prevent ongoing ankle problems.

At Airrosti, we not only rapidly resolve the source of your injury, typically in as few as 3 visits (based on patient-reported outcomes), but we help prevent injury recurrence through education and a prescription for personalized at-home exercises.

Click here to schedule your risk-free Airrosti appointment today.

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