We are pleased to welcome a new member to our team, Dr. Collin Messerly, a foot and ankle specialist. He will be seeing patients in all four of our Town Center Orthopaedic offices.
Ankle sprains are a common injury, with more than two million occurring each year. Sprained or broken ankles are often thought to be primarily an athletic injury, but more than half of ankle sprains happen to non-athletes. Anyone can experience an unexpected twisted or rolled ankle, which makes knowing how to identify and treat a sprained or broken ankle important for everyone. At Town Center Orthopaedics, ankle treatment is one of our specialties, so we’ve put together a list of questions and answers to help you determine the next steps to take and what to expect if you’ve injured your ankle.
What is a sprained ankle?
A sprained ankle is a tear or painful stretch of one or more of the ligaments that hold the ankle in place. Ankle sprains occur when you roll or twist your ankle awkwardly, and can happen during any kind of physical activity, from a rigorous game of basketball to walking around your home. A sprained ankle is more likely to occur again if you have had ankle damage before.
What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?
Symptoms of a sprained ankle may include:
How are ankle sprains classified?
High ankle sprains are classified into three grades based on the amount of damage done to your ankle:
Should you see your doctor for a sprained ankle?
Everyone rolls their ankle now and then. So why should you visit your doctor for such a common injury?
Ankle sprains can cause pain and bruising, and even a mild sprain can have you off your feet for days or weeks. It’s important to talk to your doctor or orthopedic specialist to make sure you’re following the best possible course of home treatment for your sprain. Correctly performed self-care will help your sprain heal more quickly and get you back on your feet faster.
If your sprain is severe, your doctor will need to examine your ankle and order an x-ray to make sure it’s not actually broken. They will also want to determine whether you have a high ankle sprain or a low (lateral) sprain. A high ankle sprain has symptoms similar to the classic sprained ankle but is a more serious injury. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need surgery or other specialized care.
Can you walk on a sprained ankle?
No. Even if the damage isn’t severe, you shouldn’t walk on a sprained ankle. The ligaments need time to recover from the injury. Walking on a sprained ankle could cause additional injury.
How do you treat a sprained ankle?
Treatments are used with the aim to reduce swelling and pain. Doctors recommend the RICE method, along with ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen to reduce pain:
In the unfortunate event that your sprained ankle isn’t healing correctly or requires surgery, your doctor will help you understand other treatment options that may be needed.
What is the recovery time for a sprained ankle?
Ankle sprain recovery time depends on the severity of the injury. Minor sprains may heal in as little as two weeks, while a severe sprain may take from six to 12 weeks.
Your health care provider may also recommend exercises or physical therapy during your recovery to build back flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
What’s the best way to help prevent sprained ankles?
If you’ve injured your ankle and suspect it’s sprained, let us help you with the patient-centered care you need. Our physicians are among the leading musculoskeletal specialists in Virginia, so you can relax knowing we’ll help you get back on your feet fast. Request an appointment online today.
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