One of the most common injuries, an ankle sprain is when the ligaments that support the ankle joint stretch beyond their normal range of motion and tear, partially or fully. This condition can occur at any age, and often happens when someone is playing a sport or recreational activity, though it can also happen during a fall. Our extensively trained orthopaedic surgeons offer a range of non-surgical treatments to address a sprained ankle. We utilize the latest diagnostic equipment to identify the cause of the issue and emphasize a conservative approach to addressing ankle sprains. Only in rare cases of severe injury wherein minimally techniques are unable to provide relief do we consider an operation.
Anatomy of the Ankle
The ankle is made up of several bones, ligaments, and other tissues that work together to provide movement and stability. The ends of the fibula and the tibia, which make up the lower leg bone, meet the talus, or ankle bone, to form the ankle. Surrounding this area are three major ligaments, which connect the talus to the fibula and the talus to the calcaneus (heel bone). When one or more of these ligaments are stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, it’s considered to be a sprain. In many cases, an ankle sprain can be more painful than an ankle fracture. Fortunately, this type of injury does not often require surgery.
Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains can be quite painful, and many patients assume they have suffered a fracture when they experience this injury. The most common symptoms of a sprain are:
- Sharp, strong pain
- Difficulty walking
- Stiffness in the joint
Fractures and sprains are treated differently and are unique, which is why you should have a skilled medical professional like our orthopaedic surgeons evaluate your condition after an injury.
Causes of Ankle Sprain
Patients of all ages experience ankle sprains, and the most common cause of this condition is a fall, a twisted ankle, or a traumatic blow that forces the ankle out of position. Wearing appropriately supportive shoes while playing sports or other activities is important, but also some people simply have weak ankles. Your surgeon will discuss the possible causes and ways to avoid future sprains with you during your initial consultation.
Ankle Sprain Treatment Options
It’s essential for you to seek immediate medical care after a suspected sprain, as leaving this injury untreated could lead to chronic instability, discomfort, and weakness. It may not be possible for you to realize at the time how severe your injury is, and other damage beyond a sprain could have occurred. In most cases, a sprain can be addressed without surgery; however, in severe cases an operation may be necessary to repair a torn ligament or address damage to other areas.
Non-Surgical Treatment for a Sprained Ankle
There are several minimally invasive treatments that can be applied to help heal a sprained ankle. Rest, ice, compression, elevation, and splinting or bracing are the most common and are used in almost all cases of an ankle sprain. Physical rehabilitation is also recommended to enhance the healing process, to strengthen the ankle, and to ensure the optimal result. If medication for pain is needed, we can prescribe it or recommend a suitable over-the-counter option.
Surgical Treatment for Ankle Sprain
If one or more ligaments are damaged, surgery may be recommended to correct them. Each situation is unique, and the right approach for your condition will be determined based on your diagnostic evaluation. We utilize minimally invasive surgical techniques whenever possible, and your surgeon may discuss arthroscopic surgery with you if they feel it would be beneficial. Once surgery is complete, your recovery will be tailored to your needs and will include physical therapy as a cornerstone of your treatment.
Sudden injuries can be scary and painful. Call us if you have experienced an ankle injury and believe you may have a sprain. Our medical team is available and ready to help.