Is My Ankle Sprained?
What injury is so common it can affect an estimated 25,000 people a day? An ankle sprain! You don’t need to be shooting hoops, blocking a linebacker or climbing mountains to injure your ankle. It could happen simply by stepping off the curb the wrong way as you cross the street. The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic can set you on the right path to complete healing.
What Caused It?
Ligaments hold your ankle bones in place. Normally, the elastic-like tissue lengthens and returns to its original position during movement. However, if it is moved beyond its usual range, the band of tissue can stretch and weaken, and if the movement is too abrupt, it can even tear. This can happen when the ankle rolls to the inside or the outside, or if it twists or turns when you land on it. A damaged ligament cannot hold your bones in place, and the resulting irritation and swelling can be very painful.
How Bad Is My Sprain?
Dr. Howard Schaengold can tell the severity of your injury upon examination. Your ankle strain will be classified as one of three grades:
- Grade 1 – involves a mild stretching of the tissue and limited tissue damage.
- Grade 2 – would have some level of tearing of the tissue, and the joint would be a bit loose when moving it around.
- Grade 3 – the most serious, means the ligament is fully torn and the ankle is very unstable when manipulated.
Additional testing such as an x-ray, bone scan, CT, or MRI may be needed to rule out broken bones or determine how badly the tissue is damaged. Once the extent of the problem is revealed, we can recommend the best method of treatment.
Ways to Treat Sprains
For Grade 1, start with the RICE treatment. First, don’t walk on your ankle – Rest it. Second, Ice it assoon as possible after the injury for 20-30 minutes to keep swelling in check. Repeat 3 or 4 times a day until the swelling subsides – usually in 2-3 days. Third, wrap the ankle to Compress the tissue and keep it from swelling up again and make the joint more stable. We can show you the most effective way to use an ace bandage or wrap. Fourth, Elevate it above heart level as much as possible for the first couple of days.
A Grade 2 injury also uses the RICE treatment, but sometimes a protective device will be used to keep the ankle in place while healing.
A Grade 3 ankle sprain may mean that you will always have some problems with weakness in that ankle. Surgery is usually not needed, but you may have to wear a leg brace or cast for a few weeks. Physical therapy can be helpful in strengthening the muscles and ligaments as much as possible, to get your ankle back to its normal health.
How Long Will It Take to Heal?
Most ankle sprains will heal in 4-6 weeks, but using the ankle too soon can prolong the healing time or not allow it to heal completely. We will let you know when it is safe to resume most levels of activity. For a severe injury, it may take months of conditioning before you can do certain activities. Be patient! Take time to treat your ankle properly to achieve the best outcome.
The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic in Sammamish, WA serves patients on the greater Eastside incliuding Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond. If you have sprained your ankle, call us at 425-868-3338, or set up an appointment online. We want to help you get back to good foot and ankle health!