Ankle sprains are a common reason that patients come to see us at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. This type of injury typically occurs from rolling or twisting the ankle. Learn common symptoms, causes, and treatment for a sprained ankle!
What Grade of Ankle Sprain Do I Have?
Grade 1 ankle sprain: This is the mildest form of ankle sprain, where the ligaments are stretched but not torn. Symptoms include mild pain, swelling, and stiffness, but there is usually no bruising. A grade 1 ankle sprain typically takes 1-2 weeks to heal.
Grade 2 ankle sprain: This is a moderate ankle sprain where the ligaments are partially torn. Symptoms include moderate pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected ankle. A grade 2 ankle sprain typically takes 4-6 weeks to heal.
Grade 3 ankle sprain: This is the most severe form of ankle sprain, where the ligaments are completely torn. Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, bruising, and an inability to bear weight on the affected ankle. A grade 3 ankle sprain can take several months to heal and may require surgical intervention.
What Does a Sprained Ankle Feel Like?
Symptoms of a sprained ankle will vary depending upon the type of sprain. Here is what you can generally expect from each grade of ankle sprain:
Grade I: The ankle may feel sore and have minimal swelling.
Grade II: There will be pain and swelling in the ankle. Additionally, it may be difficult to put weight on the ankle and there may be bruising.
Grade III: This type of sprain will be accompanied by severe foot and ankle pain, swelling, bruising, and your ankle will not be able to support weight. With this grade, you may even hear a popping noise when the sprain occurs.
What Causes a Sprained Ankle?
An ankle sprain can be caused by a sudden twist or turn of the ankle joint beyond its normal range of motion. This can happen in a variety of situations, including:
- Sports activities: Ankle sprains are common in sports that involve running, jumping, or sudden changes in direction, such as basketball, soccer, or tennis.
- Uneven surfaces: Walking or running on uneven surfaces, such as hiking trails or cobblestone streets, can increase the risk of ankle sprains.
- Falls: Falling from a height or slipping on a wet or slippery surface can also cause an ankle sprain.
- Poor footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or have a high heel can increase the risk of ankle sprains.
- Weak muscles: Weak ankle muscles or a lack of flexibility can make the ankle more susceptible to injury.
It's important to take steps to prevent ankle sprains, such as wearing appropriate footwear, warming up before physical activity, and strengthening the ankle muscles through exercise.
What is the Treatment for a Sprained Ankle?
Healing a sprained ankle will depend on the severity of the sprain. If you are experiencing a mild ankle sprain, you can typically use the at-home RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method in addition to over-the-counter medication. Mild sprains will typically heal on their own within 2-4 weeks.
For a more severe sprain, your doctor may recommend the treatment above along with wearing a brace, boot, or crutches. In addition, physical therapy may be beneficial to making sure your ankle recovers properly. It is very rare, but if the ligament in the ankle doesn’t heal, you may need surgery.
How Does Physical Therapy Help an Ankle Sprain
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for ankle sprains as it can help reduce pain, restore range of motion, and improve strength and flexibility. Here are some ways physical therapy can help:
Reduce pain and inflammation: Physical therapists may use techniques such as ice, heat, or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area.
Restore range of motion: Physical therapists may prescribe exercises and stretches to help restore normal range of motion to the ankle joint.
Improve strength and flexibility: Physical therapists may prescribe exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the ankle joint and improve flexibility to prevent future injuries.
Improve balance and coordination: Physical therapists may use exercises to improve balance and coordination, which can reduce the risk of future ankle sprains.
Gradual return to activity: Physical therapists can work with patients to develop a safe and gradual plan to return to physical activity after an ankle sprain, which can help prevent re-injury.
Overall, physical therapy can play a key role in the recovery process after an ankle sprain and can help improve overall function and reduce the risk of future injuries.
What Type of Doctor Should I See if I Have a Sprained Ankle?
If you think you may have a sprained ankle and you are experiencing severe pain and bruising, seek help from a foot and ankle doctor near you. Our foot and ankle surgeons in Nashville, Franklin, and Brentwood, TN, have years of experience treating sprained ankles. Additionally, they can refer you to an in-house physical therapist at MPOWER Physical Therapy that will help you to recover faster.