Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in children and people of all age groups. The ankles are particularly vulnerable to strains and sprains due to the small size of the joint and the forces exerted on it when the body is in motion. A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the bands of tissue or ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together. Leading multispecialty healthcare centers at Brooklyn, NYC offer effective ankle sprain treatment using a combination of modalities.
Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. Participating in sports, walking or exercising on uneven surfaces, previous ankle injury, wearing inappropriate footwear, or landing awkwardly on your foot can cause this injury.
Signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle vary depending on the severity of the injury. The severity of a sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to long-term problems, including chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and ongoing instability. Common symptoms include –
- Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
- Tenderness when you touch the ankle
- Restricted range of motion
- Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury
- Instability in the ankle
- Inability to put weight on the affected ankle
- Skin discoloration
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis will generally begin with a physical examination of your ankle, foot or lower leg to check for points of tenderness. You will be asked to move your foot to check range of motion and understand what positions cause discomfort or pain. Imaging tests such as X-ray will be recommended to assess the extent of the injury or rule out fracture.
Ankle sprain treatment focuses on reducing pain and swelling, promoting healing of the ligament, and restoring function of the ankle. Simple home remedies may be sufficient to treat a mild sprain. The R.I.C.E approach is recommended for (the first two or three days):
- Rest – Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort.
- Ice application – This involves applying ice pack to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day until the pain and swelling resolves. Take care not to apply ice directly to the skin.
- Compression – Compressing the ankle with bandages or ace-wraps will support the injured ankle and reduce swelling. However, don’t hinder blood circulation by wrapping too tightly.
- Elevation – Elevate your ankle above the level of your heart as often as possible as this helps reduce swelling by draining excess fluid.
At a reliable pain management center in Brooklyn, NYC, ankle sprains are treated using a variety of non-surgical modalities –
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy includes strengthening, stretching and isometric exercises that can restore the joint’s range of motion, strength, flexibility and stability.
- Splinting/casting – Casts and splints support and protect injured bones, ligaments, tendons and soft tissue. It also helps to reduce pain and swelling. Physicians will thoroughly examine the skin, soft tissues, and bony structures to accurately assess and diagnose the injury. Once the need for immobilization has been determined, they will decide which type of support will be best for you.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses low-voltage electrical current for pain relief.
- Foot Levelers Orthotics – Functional orthotics soles provide support for the over 100 muscles and the 26 bones that make up the feet. They can be slipped into closed footwear. Foot Levelers stabilizing orthotics support the 3-arched structure of the foot (plantar vault) and better balance the whole body.
- Game Ready cold compression therapy – Game Ready cold therapy system offers pain relief, reduces swelling, and enhances the natural healing abilities of the body.
- Ultrasound – High frequency sound pulses can be effective for treating acute ankle sprains.
- Pain medications – Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) help manage pain.
If the injury doesn’t heal or the ankle remains unstable after a long period of physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises, surgery will be recommended.
Timely nonsurgical treatment can effectively reduce pain and swelling of the injured ankle, restore flexibility, mobility and strength, and help you get back to your routine activities quickly.