Ankle sprain treatment aims to relieve injury pain and restore normal joint function. Treatment methods for an ankle sprain vary according to the ways in which the joint is injured and the degree or severity of the sprain.
What is an ankle sprain injury?
Ankle sprain or sprained ankle is a common injury that occurs in people of all ages and in different types of activities.
This injury occurs when the ligaments that support and connect the bones of the ankle joint are torn or overstretched, usually when the ankle is twisted, or after a fall.
Although it can be very painful, in many cases ankle sprains heal spontaneously, however, sprained ankle treatment is essential to prevent future ankle injury and strengthen the muscles in the affected area.
Ankle sprains differ from ankle fractures, a sprain injury occurs when the ligaments in the ankle are torn or stretched, while an ankle fracture occurs when one or more bones in the ankle joint are broken.
While the symptoms of a severe ankle sprain may be similar to the symptoms of a fracture, and the causes of occurrence may be similar, the treatment of an ankle sprain is quicker, and an ankle fracture may take six weeks until complete recovery, and they are distinguished by an X-ray of the ankle joint.
Causes of an ankle sprain
An ankle sprain usually occurs by turning or bending the ankle, which usually occurs suddenly during various types of activities. If the tear is severe, the injured may feel or hear a popping sound.
This injury is often associated with playing sports, especially sports that involve sudden changes in direction or that involve a lot of jumping and landing, such as basketball, football and climbing, but not all injuries occur during exercise. Ankle sprains may occur during normal daily activities. Among the various causes of sprain:
- Falling incorrectly or tripping while running is like tripping over a ditch.
- Walking or running on an uneven ground.
- Not warming up properly before exercising.
- Wearing inappropriate shoes.
- Exercising infrequently as the ligaments and muscles become more vulnerable to damage.
- loss of balance
- Low weight.
Ankle sprain degrees
After the doctor examines the foot joint, he will determine the degree of sprain in order to determine a plan for treating an ankle sprain. The degree is determined based on the severity of the injury. There are three degrees:
- Mild sprain (first degree): The patient experiences a slight stretch or even a very small tear in the ligaments, with slight bruising and swelling around the ankle, and there is usually no strong pain when touching or standing, and no instability on examination.
- Moderate sprain (second degree): There is a partial tear in one or more ligaments, the patient feels moderate pain, the joint is completely unstable, and he cannot move his foot very freely.
- Severe sprain (third degree): There is a complete tear in one or more of the ligaments, where the joint of the foot is totally unstable, and the person is in severe pain and cannot move his foot.
Ankle sprain symptoms
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
- Pain in the ankle, especially when placing the weight of the body on it, because the nerves become more sensitive when injured, which increases the intensity of the pain.
- Pain when touching the ankle, and the inability to move the foot joint.
- Difficulty walking and standing on the foot, because the sprain of the joint leads to the occurrence of limiting movement of the ankle.
- Bruising and swelling in the foot and ankle, where the joint is swollen to the point of making an impression when pressing on the affected area.
- Heat and redness because a sprained joint causes increased blood flow to the joint.
- Instability of the joint, where it feels weak, especially when the ankle ligaments are torn.
- Hearing a popping sound.
Diagnosing an ankle sprain
The diagnosis initially includes a physical examination, where the doctor asks the patient questions about the sprain, the nature of the pain and the exact area of it, and then the doctor begins to look at the injured foot and ankle and compare it with the healthy ankle, the affected ankle is swollen and bruised in general, especially around the sprained area of the joint.
Then the examination begins with gentle palpation, where the doctor investigates the location of the damaged ligaments, given that the pain is concentrated directly above them, and then the doctor tests the range of movement by moving the ankle in different directions, and this may be difficult when the ankle is severely swollen and convulsive, then the he tests the stability of the joint using different maneuvers.
The doctor must rule out a broken bone or other serious injury before treatment, by moving and examining the leg and ankle to check for a broken bone or any damage to the nerves and vessels. The doctor also examines the Achilles tendon that is nailed behind the ankle to make sure it is not torn.
After performing a physical examination, the doctor may order analytical images such as an x-ray, and if the injury is severe, the doctor may order other tests such as magnetic resonance to see the bones, ligaments and cartilage.
There are other tests such as ultrasound, which allows the doctor to see the ligaments while moving the ankle, and computed tomography, which creates detailed images of the bones by using X-rays and a computer.
After confirming the diagnosis and estimating the severity of the joint sprain, the doctor begins the treatment of the ankle sprain. More accurate diagnoses help determine the appropriate care, rehabilitation and treatment, thus ensuring that the joint is returned to its normal position.
Methods of treating an ankle sprain
Ankle sprain treatment seeks to relieve pain and reduce swelling to restore full mobility of the ankle. Appropriate treatment of an ankle sprain prevents chronic pain and joint looseness.
There are several steps that the doctor may recommend to treat a first-degree sprain, such as using ice and others, which are considered as a group of first aid that can be applied at home, including:
- Protecting the joint: from harm and damage or any improper effort or tension, in order to ensure a quick healing and rehabilitation of the joint.
- Rest: Rest is very important for the patient to prevent injury and sprain the ankle again, and to reduce the effort applied to the inflamed area.
- Ice: where ice packs are the best treatment for sprain, by placing it in a towel and leaving it on the ankle for twenty minutes because the ice helps reduce blood flow towards the affected part, and this can reduce redness, swelling and heat, and ice may help avoid joint inflammation if it is applied Apply it immediately after the injury.
- Applying pressure: by gently wrapping the ankle with an elastic bandage, this helps reduce swelling.
- Elevating the leg: raising the ankle as much as possible using a pillow so that it is higher than the level of the heart is useful, especially when sharing with ice to reduce the inflammatory process and swelling caused by the effect of gravity and to ensure joint comfort.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can also be used The best pain relievers Which contributes to relieving pain and swelling, as it is possible to obtain ibuprofen in the form of an ointment or gel and apply it around the place of the joint sprain, as it is considered one of the The best ointments for arthritis.
In the event that the previous treatment failed and none of the home interventions succeeded, or the ankle sprain was painful and did not improve after several days, it is necessary to consult the doctor to treat the joint sprain in another way, who may resort to treating the ankle sprain by using a compression belt, corset, or splint to stabilize the ankle, Crutches can be used to reduce the load on the ankles.
After resting the sprained ankle for a sufficient period, it is necessary to start doing some light exercises and moving the joint as soon as the patient can, as it is considered a great role for recovery and treatment quickly without waiting for a long time.
In some cases, physical therapy may be useful, by doing a set of exercises performed by the physical therapist, which improve balance, and help strengthen the joint, its movement and muscles, which ensures that the ankle is not sprained again, and returns the full movement of the joint to help return the joint to its healthy natural condition.
The patient may need to treat an ankle sprain with surgery. Ankle sprain surgery is necessary to treat a fracture, arthritis, or ligament inflammation, or to treat problems that cannot be resolved by medications or other treatments.
Ankle sprain prevention
To prevent sprains and ankle injuries, you should:
- Strengthening the knee joints and maintaining its flexibility
- Training and exercising continuously in order to maintain good muscle strength
- Warm up and stretch well before training to avoid injuries
- Avoid exercising on uneven ground or containing potholes and obstacles
Walking on a sprained ankle should be avoided, as this will delay the healing process and increase the risk of developing unwanted complications.
A severe injury is often accompanied by severe swelling and bruising, and the inability to stand on the affected ankle without feeling severe unbearable pain, and also if symptoms improve and disappear after two days of injury.
Symptoms usually go away or lessen a lot after two days, then it is recommended to gradually put weight on the affected ankle, in case it does not cause great inconvenience to the patient.
Although the symptoms of the two injuries are similar, the fracture is usually associated with more severe pain, increased swelling and bruising, and for longer periods than a sprained ankle.