About 25,000 people experience a sprained ankle each day, so unfortunately, we see this injury at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine more often than we’d like. We have a dedicated staff of foot and ankle doctors and physicians to treat these cases.
An ankle is sprained when the foot twists, turns, or rolls in an unnatural motion, causing the ligaments that hold the ankle bone and joint in place to be stretched beyond their limits. This can happen in a number of situations such as participating in sports like soccer and football, other physical activities like trail running, or even by stepping on an uneven surface.
There are three grades of sprain:
- Grade 1 sprain – There was some stretching of the ligament, causing little damage to it. This causes mild swelling and tenderness.
- Grade 2 sprain – The ligament was slightly torn. When the ankle is examined and moved in certain ways, there’s an abnormal looseness of the ankle joint. Grade 2 sprains cause moderate swelling and tenderness as well as possible instability and decreased range of motion.
- Grade 3 sprain – The ligament was torn completely. When the doctor pulls or positions the ankle in certain ways, severe instability occurs. This type of sprain causes significant tenderness, swelling, and instability.
Treatments for a Sprained Ankle
It’s important to see a foot and ankle specialist when you think you have a sprained ankle. The doctor will be able to ascertain how severe the sprain is and recommend an appropriate treatment.
Sprained ankles generally take 4-6 weeks to heal, though that time is greatly influenced by how severe the sprain is. For Grade 1 and 2 sprains, your doctor will commonly recommend to rest the ankle joint, avoid putting weight on it, ice it to keep the swelling down as needed, and using an immobilization brace (for cases where instability is an issue).
For Grade 3 sprains, the steps above should be taken, though healing will take considerably longer. In addition, physical therapy is often needed to restore range of motion and balance.
In some severe cases, surgery will be considered as a treatment option. While this is rare, it may be necessary for ankles that still suffer from serious instability after months of nonsurgical treatment and rehabilitation. An orthopaedic surgeon would reconstruct the torn ligament with stitches, or use other ligaments found in the foot and ankle area to repair the damage.
If you’ve suffered a sprained ankle and would like to meet with a foot and ankle specialist at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, please request an appointment online or call us at 904-825-0540.