Treatment of an Ankle Sprain

How is an ankle sprain diagnosed? First your doctor will get a complete history of the injury in detail. For example he will ask you when and how the ankle sprain occurred and ask about any prior injuries. Next, your doctor will examine your foot, ankle, and lower leg and even your knee to see if additional injury occurred. He or she may ask you to move your foot up and down and to take a few steps if possible. Your doctor will then carefully try moving your foot and ankle to see if the ligaments are intact. You will need X-rays to evaluate the ankle. X-rays can help find out whether you have any ligament tears, broken bones, or bones that have moved out of their normal positions. X-rays should always be taken for children because of potential injury to the bone’s growth plate and possible disruption of normal growth. Sometimes X-rays of both ankles are necessary in order to compare the injured ankle with the one that is healthy.

How is an ankle Sprain treated?

Most ankle sprains need only a period of protection to heal. The healing process takes about four weeks to six weeks.

Early Treatments:

Rest: first 24-48 hours after the injury is considered a critical treatment period and activities need to be curtailed. You may need to use crutches if walking causes pain. Also use of a device to immobilize or splint the ankle (such as a ankle brace or walking boot) may be necessary. ICE: For the first 48 hours post-injury, ice pack and elevate the ankle sprain 20 minutes at a time every 3-4 hours. Do NOT ice a ankle sprain for more than 20 minutes at a time!! You will not be helping heal the ankle sprain any faster, and you can cause damage to the tissues! Compression: Use compression when elevating the ankle sprain in early treatment. Using an Ace bandage, wrap the ankle from the toes all the way up to the top of the calf muscle, overlapping the elastic wrap by one-half of the width of the wrap. The wrap should be snug, but not cutting off circulation to the foot and ankle. So, if your foot becomes cold, blue, or falls asleep, re-wrap! Elevation: Keep your ankle sprain higher than your heart as often as possible

More severe ankle sprain injuries, including complete tears of the ligaments and fractures of the bone may need different treatments and rehabilitation than a simple ankle sprain. Things such as balance exercises, range of motion exercises and ultrasound and electrical stimulation may also be used. Medication Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Motrin) may be used to control pain and inflammation

When is Surgery Needed? In more severe cases or injuries that fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be required to adequately treat an ankle sprain. Surgery often involves repairing the damaged ligament or ligaments. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the surgical procedure best suited for your case based on the type and severity of your injury as well as your activity level.

If an ankle sprain is not recognized, and is not treated with the necessary attention and care, chronic problems of pain and instability may result.