Many of us have stepped on a rock incorrectly or rolled an ankle and we have wondered, “Do I have a sprained ankle?” Here we look closely at what it means to have a sprain, the symptoms of a sprain and when it’s time to seek medical help.
What is a Sprained Ankle?
A sprained ankle is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle, usually on the outside of an ankle. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect one bone to another bone. Essentially they keep our joints together. In the case of the ankle joint, ligaments provide stability as they limit side to side motion.
Like many injuries, some sprained ankles can be worse than others. The seriousness depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn or completely torn, as well as the number of ligaments that are injured.
Sprained ankles are not the same as ankle STRAINS which involve muscles instead of ligaments.
There are many causes of a sprained ankle. Ankles are prone to injury simply because they are used a lot. The most common result from a sudden fall, twist or blow that forces the ankle joint out of its normal position. This can happen while hiking, wearing unsupportive shoes or running on an uneven sidewalk or surface.
Some sprained ankles happen because of weak ankles, a condition that some people are born with. Additionally, previous ankle or foot injuries can also lead to weak ankles and eventually sprains.
There are five signs of a sprained ankle:
- Pain or Soreness
- Difficulty walking
- Stiffness in the joint
Sprained ankle symptoms can fluctuate in intensity depending on the sprain. In people with previous ankle or foot injuries, they may not feel acute pain or swelling. They may simply feel unsteady when walking.
When to Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention if you are experiencing any sprained ankle symptoms. A sprained ankle is a serious injury and can lead to additional complications if left untreated. Contact a foot and ankle surgeon for an appointment as soon as possible.
In the meantime, begin using the “R.I.C.E.” treatment.
These steps should at least help to reduce swelling, pain and further injury.
If you do think you have a sprained ankle, do not hesitate to seek help.
From Dr. Jason Dickerson and Heiden Orthopedics
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons