Whenever you run, jump, or play sports, you put your ankles under a lot of stress. It’s no surprise, then, that ankle sprains are probably the most common traumatic foot and ankle injury we see here at Burlington County Foot & Ankle Associates.
Of course, sports aren’t the only way to suffer a sprain. An awkward step off a curb or an unexpected trip or fall can yield the same result.
Although ankle sprains can vary significantly in severity and in terms of how they are treated, you should always seek professional advice and care any time you twist or injure your ankle. We can help you ensure that your ankle heals completely, reducing your risk of recurring injuries and chronic pain
How Can I Tell If My Ankle Is Sprained?
Ankle sprains are usually caused by a sudden rolling, twisting, or turning motion that causes your ankle to become hyperextended. When this happens, one or more of the ligaments that connect the leg bones to the ankle bone becomes overstretched or torn.
The pain is usually sudden and noticeable, although the intensity of symptoms can vary widely depending on how severe the damage.
- Grade I sprain: Mild tenderness, swelling, pain, and stiffness. Walking is usually still possible with some discomfort, though not advised. The ligaments are overstretched but probably not torn, or only torn slightly.
- Grade 2 sprain: Somewhat more severe tenderness and pain, and possible bruising. Walking is typically painful. At least one ligament is likely partially torn.
- Grade 3 sprain. Severe swelling, pain, and bruising. Ankle feels unstable and walking is typically impossible. One or more ligaments may be completely ruptured.
While it’s obvious that a Grade 3 sprain is a much more serious problem than a Grade 1, failure to treat any sprain (even the mildest ones) properly can put you at greater risk of recurring long-term issues. Do not attempt to “walk off” a suspected ankle sprain!
What to Do If You Think You’ve Sprained Your Ankle
If you’ve injured your ankle, give us a call to make an appointment as soon as possible. We’re often available for same-day and next-day appointments, and we have extensive experience treating sprains and other foot and ankle injuries of all kinds.
In the meantime, immediately stop what you are doing and begin RICE therapy for the next 48-72 hours:
- Rest your ankle. Avoid bearing weight on the injured foot and keep it protected.
- Ice your ankle. Do this for up to 20 minutes at time, no more than once per hour. Do not apply ice directly to skin; wrap in a thin towel first.
- Compress your ankle. You can use a compression wrap to help minimize swelling. It should not be so tight that it cuts off your circulation. If you don’t have any compression wraps or aren’t confident putting one on yourself, you can skip this step.
- Elevate your ankle. While you rest, try to keep your ankle above the level of your heart as much as you are able.
Studies show that those who follow RICE protocol in the first few days following an injury tend to have less pain and swelling and experience better results than those who do not.
Building Your Ankle Sprain Treatment Plan
As we mentioned above, the best treatment for your ankle sprain will depend on the severity of the initial injury.
For the mildest sprains, very little may be needed beyond RICE therapy, followed by a program of specific stretches and exercises to regain strength and range of motion in the ankle.
For more moderate sprains, it’s often necessary to support and protect the ankle via bandages or bracing during the healing process. Severe sprains may require total immobilization with a walking boot or cast and crutches to fully protect the ankle and prevent weight-bearing.
MLS laser therapy can be an effective treatment option for sprains at any level of severity, as it can help trigger rapid alleviation of pain and swelling and accelerate the natural tissue repair process. Many of our most active patients choose it for these reasons, although the benefits apply to people of all activity levels.
Our preference is to avoid surgery whenever possible, but it may be necessary or recommended in some cases to repair ruptured ligaments after a severe sprain. Surgery may also be considered if you’ve had multiple sprains in the past, and the ankle has been unable to fully heal or has developed chronic instability.
Regardless of the severity of the sprain, proper post-sprain rehabilitation will be key. Follow your rehab plan carefully, and do not begin any specific stretches or exercises until you’ve been given the go-ahead. In some cases, we may recommend custom orthotics or wearing ankle braces regularly during activities to help reduce the risk of future sprains.
Comprehensive Ankle Sprain Care in Medford, NJ
Our practice works with youth athletes, blue collar workers, military personnel, seniors, and people of all ages and activity levels.
No matter who you are or what you do, an ankle sprain is a serious injury and deserves comprehensive care. We can help you heal as quickly as possible, so that you can be back on your feet and enjoying your favorite activities with full confidence.
Give us a call at (609) 714-0052 to schedule today.
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520 Stokes Road,
Medford, NJ 08055
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