An ankle sprain, unlike an ankle strain, which affects muscle, is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle. Ligaments are like rubber bands, connecting bones in the foot and holding the ankle joint together.
The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether one or several ligaments are affected. It also depends on whether or not a ligament that has simply been stretched beyond its normal capacity or involves a partially or completely torn ligament, which is more severe.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
The symptoms of an ankle sprain vary in intensity. They usually involve pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and difficulty walking. In some patients, who have had a previous ankle sprain, swelling and pain may be absent. In these cases, the symptoms may simply be a feeling of unsteadiness or wobbliness in the affected ankle. In any event, any ankle sprain is a serious injury and should receive immediate attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. An untreated ankle sprain could lead to more serious conditions, such as chronic ankle instability.
The doctor, in diagnosing an ankle sprain, will questions to assess the patient’s ankle sprain history and will ask questions about the symptoms of the current injury. He will thoroughly examine the affected ankle and perhaps prescribe an X-ray or some other imaging technology to assess the severity of the sprain. An appropriate treatment plan will then be recommended.
Both surgical and non surgical treatment methods can be used. In either event, rehabilitation of the ankle is crucial and it stars immediately when treatment begins. Non surgical methods may involve:
- resting the ankle
- applying an ice pack to the affected area
- using an elastic wrap to compress the sprain to control swelling
- elevating the ankle
- physical therapy
Surgery may be needed for more severe ankle sprains and usually involves repairing the damaged ligament or ligaments.