A sprained ankle is a very common injury. Approximately 25,000 people experience it each day. A sprained ankle can happen to athletes and non-athletes, children and adults. It can happen when you take part in sports and physical fitness activities. It can also happen when you simply step on an uneven surface, or step down at an angle.
Your Orthopaedic Clinic Doctor has seen hundreds of patients with ankle sprains. They may order X-rays to make sure you don’t have a broken bone in the ankle or foot. A broken bone can have similar symptoms of pain and swelling. The doctor will move your ankle in various ways to see which ligament has been hurt or torn. The doctor may order an MRI scan if a very severe injury to the ligaments, injury to the joint surface or small bone chips are suspected.
The amount of pain depends on the amount of stretching and tearing of the ligaments. Instability occurs when there has been complete tearing of the ligament or a complete dislocation of the ankle joint.
Walking may be difficult because of the swelling and pain. You may need to use crutches if walking causes pain. Usually swelling and pain will last two days to three days.
Most ankle sprains need only a period of protection to heal. The healing process takes about four weeks to six weeks. The doctor may tell you to incorporate motion early in the healing process to prevent stiffness. Even a complete ligament tear can heal without surgical repair if it is immobilized appropriately. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to control pain and inflammation. If an ankle sprain is not recognized, and is not treated with the necessary attention and care, chronic problems of pain and instability may result.
Surgical treatment for ankle sprains is rare. Surgery is reserved for injuries that fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment, and for persistent instability after months of rehabilitation and non-surgical treatment.
Surgical options include:
- Ligament Reconstruction
Rehabilitation after surgery involves time and attention to restore strength and range of motion so you can return to pre-injury function. The length of time you can expect to spend recovering depends upon the extent of injury and the amount of surgery that was done. Rehabilitation may take from weeks to months.
The best way to prevent ankle sprains is to maintain good strength, muscle balance and flexibility.
- Warm-up before doing exer-cises and vigorous activities
- Pay attention to walking, running or working surfaces
- Wear good shoes
- Pay attention to your body’s warning signs to slow down when you feel pain or fatigue
Our surgeons at The Orthopaedic Clinic have years of combined experience treating ankle injuries of all types. If you have injured your ankle, come see us for a consultation and let us help get you “back on your feet.”