How much do you really know about ankle sprains? Although they are relatively common injuries, many patients have a limited understanding of what actually happens during an ankle sprain. However, understanding these injuries, as well as prevention and treatment methods, can be invaluable information. Take a moment to get the answers to your most frequently asked questions about ankle sprains from the experts at Rothman Institute. This way, you can take the necessary steps to minimize your risk of such injuries, and, if you or someone you love ever does experience a sprain, you’ll know exactly what to do next.
What Is An Ankle Sprain?
Ankle sprains refer to the injury of one or more ligaments in the ankle. There are four ligaments in the ankle, and these bands of tissue connect one bone to another and provide stability. They work together to limit the side-to-side movement of the ankle, especially when the foot is pointed downwards. When the ligaments are pushed beyond the boundaries of their normal mobility and they are stretched or partially or completely torn, an ankle sprain occurs.
Common causes of sprained ankles include:
- Landing poorly after jumping or pivoting
- Exercising on an uneven surface
- Falling and twisting your ankle
Most frequently, sprains occur in the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
How Can Ankle Sprains Be Prevented?
There are a number of steps that you can take which will help to minimize your risk of a sprained ankle. These include:
- Warming up prior to exercising
- Exercising additional care when walking on uneven surfaces
- Avoiding vigorous exercise on uneven surfaces
- Wearing well fitting shoes properly
- Wearing shoes that are appropriate to your current activity
- Avoiding sports for which you are not properly conditioned
- Practicing stability training and balance exercises
- Maintaining strength and flexibility
How Are Ankle Sprains Treated?
Most ankle sprains can be treated non-operatively. Because early rest and rehabilitation are imperative for an ankle sprain, make sure that you are aware for the initial treatments recommended by your Rothman physician. These include immobilization, early physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication for pain and swelling, ice, and compression wraps. The goals of these treatments are to reduce pain and swelling and allow for healing to proceed, as well as rebuilding strength appropriately so as not to incite further injury.
In some cases, a surgical treatment may be necessary for a sprained ankle in order to repair the injured ligament or ligaments. The most common situation which might call for a surgical approach is a high ankle sprain. This term refers to a sprain that injures the syndesmotic ligament, the large ligament above the ankle that connects the tibia and fibula together. These injuries can be categorized as stable or unstable.
A stable high ankle sprain is one in which the tibia and fibula have not separated from one another. These are typically treated with immobilization through a cast or walking boot that would be worn for about six weeks, followed by physical therapy for rehabilitation.
An unstable sprain of the high ankle refers to those in which the tibia and fibula have become separated from one another. In such injuries, your doctor may recommend a surgical treatment option. During the typical procedure, a screw is placed between the fibula and the tibia to hold the bones in their proper positions while the ligament heals. Like in the case of high ankle sprains, a period of rehabilitation is extremely important after surgery to ensure the best possible outcome.
Where Can I Get The Best Treatment?
If you or someone you love does experience a sprained ankle, it is important to find an experienced physician. At Rothman Institute, you will find a team of such specialists working together to provide patients with the best possible diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.
To learn more or to make an appointment, contact us at 1.800.321.9999.