What is a sprained ankle?
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments in the ankle are torn or stretched beyond their normal range of motion. Ligaments are the strong tissues that connect bones to other bones. The ligaments that hold the ankle together keep the joint in its proper position and help stabilize the joint. Some potential causes of an ankle sprain include falling and twisting your ankle, landing awkwardly while running or jumping, or tripping on an uneven surface. Dr. Ronak Mukesh Patel, orthopedic ankle specialist, treats patients in Sugar Land, Pearland, and the Houston, Texas area, who have experienced an ankle injury, rolled ankle, or ankle sprain.
What are the types of sprained ankles?
Upon diagnosing your ankle sprain, Dr. Patel will determine what grade, or the severity, of your ankle sprain, which will determine what kind of medical treatment will be necessary. There are three grades of ankle sprains:
- Grade 1 sprain: This is the mildest sprain, resulting in slight stretching, or microscopic tears in one or more ligaments. Grade 1 sprains may result in some swelling and mild tenderness. Grade 1 sprains take 1 to 2 weeks of recovery.
- Grade 2 sprain: Grade 2 is a moderate sprain. One or more ankle ligament is partially torn, and moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness may occur. This sprain may also cause some bruising, and some loss of range of motion. Grade 2 sprains take 2 to 4 weeks to recover.
- Grade 3 sprain: This is the most severe sprain resulting in a complete ligament tear. Inability to walk, severe pain, bruising, tenderness, and complete loss of ankle range of motion may occur. Grade 3 sprains can take up to 1 to 2 months to heal.
*The timings are estimates and can vary depending on the patient’s age, weight, activity level, associated injured structures, and rehabilitation.
What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?
Symptoms may vary, depending on the severity of the sprain. In general, patients may experience:
- Pain when applying weight or pressure
- Tenderness to the touch
- Restricted range of motion
- Joint instability
- Popping feeling or sound with injury
How are ankle sprains diagnosed?
Dr. Patel will carefully examine your ankle, foot, and lower leg to check for tenderness, bruising, pain, and mobility. If Dr. Patel suspects the injury may be severe, an x-ray, CT scan, and/or MRI may be necessary for proper diagnosis.
What is the treatment for an ankle sprain or a broken ankle?
The RICE protocol is often recommended:
- R: Rest the ankle by not applying weight or pressure to it
- I: Ice should be applied to keep swelling down (for 15 to 20 minutes, 4-5 times a day)
- C: Compression dressings such as ace bandages can be used to wrap the ankle to immobilize and support the joint
- E: Elevate your foot above your heart when resting
Other non-surgical treatments may include:
- Immobilization: wearing a protective boot or cast
- Physical therapy: rehabilitating the joint by doing strengthening exercises, balance training, or agility exercises to bring strength and range of motion back to the ankle.
- Pain relievers: taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may help relieve pain and swelling.
Ankle sprains can often heal on their own without surgical intervention. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to repair the ligaments if a severe injury or repeated instability occurs. Examples of ankle sprain surgery include:
- Ankle ligament reconstruction: surgery is performed to tighten one or more of the ankle ligaments using sutures. Sometimes a tendon transfer is performed as well, which involves grafting a piece of tendon from another part of the body, (autograft) or a cadaver (allograft), and using it to replace the weakened ligament.
- Arthroscopy: this surgical technique allows an internal view of the ankle joint structures. A small surgical camera is placed on the end of a flexible tube to visualize how much tissue is damaged and determine the extent of the damage.
Ankle Sprain Specialist
Have you rolled your ankle, or have you injured your ankle and are not sure if it is broken or has torn tendons or ligaments? Some ankle sprains can be quite severe and can cause extreme pain and loss of mobility. However, not all ankle sprains require surgery and many can heal on their own with wrapping, a brace or a boot. Ankle sprain specialists, Doctor Ronak Mukesh Patel, provides diagnosis as well as surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Houston, Sugar Land, and Pearland, TX who have rolled their ankle or who are suffering from an ankle sprain. Contact Dr. Patel’s team today!