Ankle sprains can be quite the painful experience. Ankle sprain is one of the most common forms of injury. More than 80% of all ankle injuries involve over-stretching or tearing of the ankle ligaments. At least 65% of lateral ankle pain is from a previous ankle sprain, especially those that failed to undergo complete rehabilitation. The #1 risk factor for a lateral ankle sprain is a history of a previous sprain. Often times the injured person will experience limited mobility, swelling, and, depending on the severity, discoloration of the skin. Although this can occur in various areas of the body, the ankle is the most common site for a sprain.
There are multiple ways that the ankle can become injured like this. However, the simple act of walking may cause a sprain. If footing is lost or the person is walking on uneven terrain, local damage may occur. This may be especially so for athletes that continually push their limits, or for the person who has suffered from a previous accident involving the lower extremities.
Although rare, complications may arise and obtaining medical treatment may become necessary. A severe sprain can actually tear the ligament and even damage the muscle. When this occurs, the person may have to be off their feet for a prolonged period of time. Depending on the severity and nature of the damage, surgery and physical therapy may be required. Seek the help of New Jersey podiatrist Bruce Theall to carefully make these decisions.
Sprained ankles are painful in nature, but those with severe unrelenting pain may have sustained a worse injury than previously though. If walking becomes too painful for the person to take more than a few steps, swelling becomes too severe, or if numbness or tingling is present, immediate medical attention should be sought. Mild to moderate bruising is common with a sprain but redness of the skin or worsening of the discoloration should not persist either.
The ankle injury should be managed initially following the PRICE principle: Protection, Rest, ice, compression and elevation. There must be a time period that there is no weight, no walking, is done so that the injury can heal properly. A CAM walker or “boot” allows for protection. Also, it keeps the ankle in a good healing position. Braces, taping, high-top shoes and foot orthotics can also be employed for treatment while the ankle sprain is healing, that can be evaluated by Dr. Theall to ensure the ankle sprain is healing correctly. Patients generally require s 4 –8 weeks of rehabilitation (3 times/week). In some cases additional therapy may be necessary.
In the majority of cases, medical attention is not required for a sprained ankle. Remedies for self-care at home include propping the ankle up, applying ice packs as needed, and remaining off your feet. Some may also find that wrapping with an ACE bandage and taking over-the-counter pain relievers are helpful. One of the most important things is to avoid further stress to the affected area.
One of the best treatments for an ankle sprain is to prevent it in the first place. Wearing appropriate shoes for the occasion, stretching before exercises and sports, and knowing your limits can aid in prevention. Those that have suffered from a previous sprain may want to consider additional support, such as a brace and regular exercises to strengthen the ankle.
For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668).