What Are Ankle Sprains?

Ankle sprains are a common sports and walking injury caused by twisting the ankle and damaging the ligaments and soft tissue. Ligaments are strong “ropes” consisting of compacted strands of tissue, which stabilize the ankle joint. Ankle sprains are often caused by a partial or complete ligament tear, which weakens the ankle and causes ankle instability. The degree to which ankle stability is affected depends on the level of the tear to the ligament.

An ankle sprain will usually occur during physical activity such as running or landing from a jump. In most cases, the ankle rolls, followed by an audible snapping sound or pop and sharp pain on the outside of the ankle. The popping sound you hear can be a ligament rupturing. Swelling, pain and bruising are likely. You may be able to apply weight and walk on your injured ankle if the injury is a mild sprain, however, you should cease the activity (running, jumping, etc.) until you have your ankle examined. You should also keep your shoes on and apply ice to the area (20 minutes on, 40 minutes off, using a cloth or thin towel between the ice and the skin) until Ryan Foot and Ankle Clinic evaluates the ankle.

How Are Ankle Sprains Treated?

Your podiatrist at will examine your ankle and recommend a course of treatment. X-rays may be needed to rule out an ankle fracture. Treatment will include the R.I.C.E. protocol:

  • REST: Walking with the injury may cause further damage; it is best to stay off of the ankle.
  • ICE: Ice packs should be applied for 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off. Use a thin towel or cloth between the icepack and your skin.
  • COMPRESSION: Your foot and ankle specialist will use an elastic wrap to control the swelling.
  • ELEVATION: Keeping the injured ankle above the level of your heart will also help reduce the swelling.

Your podiatrist may prescribe custom orthotics for stability, to help prevent future injury. You should recover in three to seven weeks, but may still experience swelling for several months.

If you have a sprained ankle or would like more information about this condition, give us a call at one of our 5 local podiatry offices in Charlotte, Concord and Harrisburg today for more information or to schedule an appointment.