A sprain is an injury to ligamentous tissue. An ankle sprain is an injury, specifically tearing, to one or more ankle ligaments. The ankle ligaments are thick bands of connective tissue that anchor the ankle joint. An ankle sprain happens when the ankle rolls, twists or turns in an awkward way. There are different grades of ankle sprain (Grades I-III) and treatments associated with each one. If you do injure your ankle, it's important to see your podiatrist to determine the correct treatment course. Ankle sprains are serious injuries because the ankle ligaments keep our foot and ankle stable. See your Podiatrist!
- Grade I: Stretch or small tear of one or more ankle ligaments with mild tenderness and swelling. The ankle still feels stable. It is usually possible to walk with minimal pain. Treat with Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE)
- Rest your ankle by not walking on it.
- Ice to keep down the swelling.
- Compress with an Ace bandage.
- Elevate the foot on pillows, try to get the foot above heart level.
- Grade II: Larger, incomplete tear of one or more ankle ligaments with moderate pain, swelling and bruising. The ankle is tender to the touch and it is difficult to walk without pain. Treat with RICE (as above). Protected weight bearing in a boot or a shoe. Once inflammation goes down, often will start physical therapy to regain normal ankle range of motion. Recommend wearing protective support, like an ankle brace, for up to 6 months on return to strenuous activity.
- Grade III: Complete tear of one or more ankle ligaments with severe swelling, bruising, pain. The ankle joint is unstable and often the patient cannot put weight on the foot.
Treatment for non competitive athlete is immobilization and strict non-weightbearing. For competitive athletes, often times surgical repair of the injured ligaments is necessary.