A sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments, which connect adjacent bones in a joint and provides stability. An ankle sprain is a common injury that occurs when you fall, suddenly twist your ankle joint or when you land on your foot in an awkward position. It most commonly occurs when you participate in sports activities, or jump or run on an irregular surface.
What are the symptoms of ankle sprain?
Ankle sprains can cause pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, stiffness, numbness in the toes, and inability to walk or bear weight.
How is ankle sprain diagnosed?
The diagnosis of an ankle sprain is usually made considering the history of the injury and a physical examination of the ankle. X-ray of your ankle may be needed to confirm if a fracture is present.
What are the treatment options?
The most common treatment recommended for ankle sprains is R.I.C.E.
- Rest: Take rest, and limit your movement and bearing weight on your foot to allow healing and prevent further damage. Crutches may be ordered for walking.
- Ice: An ice-pack should be applied over the injured area for up to 3 days after the injury. You can use a cold pack or crushed ice wrapped in a towel. Ice packs help to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Never place ice directly over your skin.
- Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling and bruising. This is usually accomplished by using an elastic wrap for a few days or weeks after the injury.
- Elevation: Elevate your injured ankle above heart level for about 2 to 3 hours a day, to reduce swelling.
Your doctor may also use a brace or splint to reduce motion of the ankle. Anti-inflammatory pain medications may be prescribed to help reduce the pain and control inflammation.
To prevent further sprains or re-injury, you may need to wear a semi-rigid ankle brace during exercise, special wraps, and high-top tennis shoes. Avoid pivoting and twisting movements for 2 to 3 weeks. A program of ankle exercises will also help to prevent re-injury by making the ankles strong and flexible.