A sprained ankle is one of the most common sports-related injuries, accounting for nearly 40% of all injuries in athletic activities.
What Is a Sprained Ankle?
Three bones – the talus, tibia, and fibula – make up the bulk of the foot. Your ankle is a hinge joint, connecting the leg to the foot. Inside the ankle, you have the lateral ligament, deltoid ligament, and the syndesmosis.
A sprain occurs when you tear or stretch a ligament. In an ankle sprain, the lateral ligament is usually the ligament where damage is incurred.
Ankle Sprain Symptoms
The first indication of an ankle sprain is a pop, either felt or heard. Initially, you may experience large swelling or bruising. You may also find that placing weight on the injured ankle is difficult.
Diagnosing Ankle Sprains
When diagnosing an ankle sprain, physicians look for significant lateral ankle swelling and bruising, extending down to the foot and toes. Tenderness can be felt on the outside of the ankle along the lateral ligament, with severe sprains on the inner ankle with the deltoid ligament and syndesmosis, as well. X-rays are used to determine whether the ankle experienced further damage.
Treating a Sprained Ankle
For minor sprains, you can expect to be given a brace for ankle stability.
For severe sprains, a patient will be required to wear a walking boot until the ankle heals. Once the pain has decreased, the patient may begin a physical therapy program that includes stretching and strengthening the ankle.
Patients will progress at different rates depending on the severity of the sprain. It can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks for the ankle to fully heal.
Upon returning to sport, you should continue to use a brace for ankle support.