Ankle sprains can occur suddenly, causing a wide array of symptoms and interfering with normal range of motion. As a top-ranked podiatrist in and around Arcadia, CA, Dr. Wenjay Sung, DPM, is skilled in evaluating and treating ankle sprains using the most appropriate care for optimal results in every patient.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the fibrous bands of tissues that connect one bone to another to provide stability and controlled movement in a joint. Sprains can occur when these bands are partially or completely torn, stretched or twisted.
Ligaments are most commonly injured when subjected to indirect forces that forcibly pull them, such as when an ankle is twisted or bent. Laess commonly, ligament injuries can occur following a direct impact with the ankle. Falling is a primary cause of ankle sprains, and many sprains occur as a result of a sports-related accident or a slip and fall at work. Many sprains occur while walking or running when the ankle is rolled inward or outward when placing the foot on the ground. Most ligaments occur where the ankle bones attach to the bones of the foot, but sometimes a sprain can occur when the ligaments located in the very lower portion of the leg become strained or damaged. These sprains are sometimes referred to as high ankle sprains.
Sprained ankles usually cause sharp pain when the injury occurs and immediately afterward, followed by swelling and tenderness, especially if the area is pressed or weight is placed on the ankle. Sprains are often accompanied by a “snapping: or “popping” sound that occurs when the ligament is stretched or torn. Burning sensations, bruising, and discoloration may also occur.
Sprains can often be treated by elevating the foot and leg and placing ice packs over the area to help reduce inflammation and swelling, and pain medication may also be prescribed. Resting the ankle and avoiding placing weight on it are also important. Depending on the extent of the sprain, splinting or bracing may be needed to provide stability and promote healing, and crutches or a cane may be required to stay mobile while avoiding placing weight on the ankle. When a sprain involves a tear in the ligament, surgery may be necessary to correct the tear.