Ankle Sprain: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

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An ankle sprain is an injury to the hard bands of tissue (ligaments) that surround and connect the bones of the leg to the foot. The injury typically happens when you unintentionally twist or turn your ankle in an awkward method. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together.

All ligaments have a particular variety of motion and borders that allow them to keep the joints stabilized. When ligaments surrounding the ankle are pressed past these boundaries, it causes a sprain. Sprained ankles most commonly involve injuries to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

You must call your doctor immediately if you sprain your ankle. Your doctor can determine the severity of the injury and advise an appropriate course of treatment. It can take several weeks or months for a sprained ankle to heal entirely.

What Causes an Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain frequently happens when the foot suddenly twists or rolls, requiring the ankle joint out of its typical position. Throughout physical activity, the ankle may twist inward as a result of sudden or unexpected movement. This causes several ligaments around the ankle to stretch or tear.

Some swelling or bruising can occur as a result of these tears. You might also feel pain or pain when you put weight on the afflicted area. Tendons, cartilage, and capillary may likewise be damaged due to the sprain.

Ankle sprains can take place to anybody at any age. Participating in sports, walking on unequal surfaces, and even wearing unsuitable footwear can all cause this type of injury.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain?

You might have a sprained ankle if you observe the following signs in the ankle:

  • swelling
  • tenderness
  • bruising
  • pain
  • inability to put weight on the affected ankle
  • skin discoloration
  • stiffness

The ankle can sustain various kinds of injuries. It is very important to see your doctor when you’re experiencing issues with your ankle. Your doctor can identify whether the injury is a sprain or something more serious.

How is an Ankle Sprain Diagnosed?

Your doctor will carry out a physical exam to identify which ligaments have been torn. Throughout the examination, your doctor might move your ankle joint in numerous ways to examine your variety of motion.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, might likewise be purchased to rule out a bone fracture. An MRI might be done if your doctor thinks a fracture, a major injury to the ligaments, or damage to the surface area of the ankle joint. The MRI test uses a strong electromagnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body. This permits your doctor to make a proper diagnosis.

How is an Ankle Sprain Treated?

Treating a sprained ankle promotes healing and prevents additional discomfort. It is necessary not to put weight on the injured area while you’re recuperating from an ankle sprain.

Home Treatments

You may be able to treat moderate sprains in the house. Recommended home care treatments include:

  • using elastic bandages (such as an ACE bandage) to wrap your ankle, but not too securely
  • wearing a brace to support your ankle
  • using crutches, if required
  • elevating your foot with pillows as required to decrease swelling
  • taking ibuprofen (such as Advil) or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to handle pain
  • getting a lot of rest and not putting weight on your ankle

It’s likewise helpful to use ice to the injured area as quickly as you can to minimize swelling. On the first day, you should apply ice every 20 to 30 minutes, three to 4 times each day. Later, apply ice every three to 4 hours for the next 2 days.

Your doctor might tell you to remain off of your injured ankle till the pain subsides. For mild sprains, this may take a week to 10 days, while more extreme sprains might use up to several weeks to heal.

Surgery

Surgery for sprained ankles is uncommon. It may be carried out when the damage to the ligaments is serious and there is evidence of instability, or when the injury does not enhance with nonsurgical treatment. Surgical options include:

  • Arthroscopy: During an arthroscopy, a surgeon looks inside the joint to see if there are any loose fragments of bone or cartilage.
  • Reconstruction: For reconstruction surgery, a surgeon will repair the torn ligament with stitches. They might also use other ligaments or tendons around the foot or ankle to fix the harmed ligaments.

The type of surgical treatment needed will depend on the intensity of your ankle sprain and your activity level. After surgery, rehabilitation is a fundamental part of the recovery procedure. You’ll require to participate in routine follow-up visits with your doctor and complete physical treatment exercises to gain back movement and strengthen the muscle about the ankle. Depending on the degree of your ankle sprain and the type of surgery, rehabilitation can take weeks or months.

What Is the Long-term Outlook for Someone With an Ankle Sprain?

Most of the times, an ankle sprain isn’t very severe and will entirely recover with proper treatment. The quantity of time required for a complete recovery will depend on the severity of the sprain. The majority of ankle sprains take a couple of weeks to fully heal. A more extreme sprain might take months.

Although pain and swelling will ultimately go away, your injured ankle may not be as stable as your untouched ankle. Your doctor might recommend particular exercises to assist strengthen the muscle about the ankle. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t proceed with exercises until your doctor has informed you to do so.

How Can I Prevent an Ankle Sprain?

You can lower your danger for future sprains by:

  • wrapping the affected ankle in an elastic bandage
  • wearing a brace, if required
  • carrying out strengthening exercises
  • preventing high heels
  • warming up before exercising
  • wearing durable, quality footwear
  • taking note of surface areas you’re walking on
  • slowing or stopping activities when you feel tired

Call your doctor immediately if you think you’ve sprained your ankle again. When left neglected, an ankle sprain can result in long-lasting pain and instability in the ankle.

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