ValleyOrtho’s physicians have extensive experience treating a wide variety of lower leg injuries, including ankle sprains.
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched or torn. A sprained ankle can be caused by hundreds of things ranging from a simple slip on ice to a bad fall while playing basketball.
There are two types of ankle sprains:
- Eversion ankle sprain — occurs when the foot rolls outward and tears the deltoid ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
- Inversion ankle sprain — occurs when the foot rolls inward and tears the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
A sprain is caused by trauma that moves the joint out of position and overstretches, sometimes tearing the supporting ligaments.
The following symptoms vary in intensity depending upon the severity of the injury:
- Restricted ankle motion
- Difficulty walking or putting pressure through the foot
Careful evaluation of ankle injuries is important in determining the severity of the sprain to enable our care team to create an effective comprehensive treatment plan. The severity of injury will determine the amount of time lost from activity, the type of treatment and rehabilitation.
Our compassionate care team will evaluate the injury by palpating the ligaments surrounding the ankle, measuring ankle range of motion and testing the strength of the musculature surrounding the ankle. An X-ray will be ordered to rule out any fractures.
- A first-degree sprain is one in which one or more ligaments are stretched.
- A second-degree ankle sprain is one in which portions of one or more ligaments are torn.
- A third-degree sprain is defined as a complete tearing of one or more ligaments supporting the ankle.
Although injury severity varies greatly, some general treatment and rehabilitation guidelines are appropriate for all ankle sprains. Immediately after the injury occurs, ice should be applied to the ankle and the leg should be elevated above the level of the heart for 15 to 20 minutes. The combination of rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) should continue for a minimum of 48 to 72 hours.
- Rest – Decrease, modify or eliminate weight-bearing and other painful activities
- Ice – Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day
- Compression – Wrap the injured ankle with an elastic bandage
- Elevation – Elevate the limb higher than the level of the heart to remove swelling from the foot and ankle
Conservative treatment is always the first recommendation because sprains will generally heal on their own with time. Our specialists at ValleyOrtho will offer the most conservative and comprehensive treatment options to best care for the ankle sprain.
Surgery is needed only in severe cases where pieces of torn ligament or bone need to be removed and the ligament needs to be reconstructed.