Did you know that foot and ankle injuries are actually quite common? These injuries occur when the ligaments that support the foot or ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. This can be very painful, and can limit your ability to walk or bear weight. A sprain can happen to anyone, and they can range from mild to severe.
Here at Resnikoff Podiatry and Foot Surgery Centers, we provide treatment and rehabilitation for various types of sprains, and we want to help educate you on the types, treatment, and prevention associated with foot and ankle sprains.
Types of Sprains
When you seek treatment for a foot or ankle sprain, your doctor may order imaging tests such as an x-ray, ultrasound, and/or MRI to rule out any broken bones, as a broken foot or ankle can often present the same symptoms as a sprain. When broken bones have been ruled out, your doctor will then perform a thorough examination to diagnose the type of sprain.
This will be determined by the severity of the injury. There are 3 types of sprains:
- Grade 1 (Mild) Sprain- This type of sprain has minimal damage to the ligaments supporting the foot or ankle. Most patients with a grade 1 sprain experience mild swelling and tenderness around the injured area.
- Grade 2 (Moderate) Sprain- This type of sprain occurs when the ligament supporting the foot or ankle is partially torn and when there is moderate swelling and tenderness surrounding the affected area. Grade 2 ankle sprains can also cause looseness in the ankle joint.
- Grade 3 (Severe) Sprain- This type of sprain occurs when the ligament supporting the foot or ankle is completely torn. Patients with a grade 3 sprain will experience significant swelling and tenderness around the injured area and often struggle with instability.
Treatment and Recovery
The type of sprain will determine your method of treatment and recovery time.
Most mild sprains can be treated from home with a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE method). For moderate to severe sprains we may recommend one or a combination of immobilization, crutches, and/or physical therapy.
In rare cases, surgery may be needed. This form of treatment is reserved only for severe injuries that are not responsive to non-surgical treatment options. Other instances where surgery may be recommended include patients who have had repetitive ankle or foot injuries or instability even after non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation.
How can I prevent foot and ankle sprains?
While foot and ankle sprains are common, they can be prevented! Strong, flexible, and stable feet and ankles are less likely to experience an injury, so we recommend the following practices to help promote foot and ankle health:
- Always warm up before participating in physical activity.
- Wear the appropriate footwear for the activity in which you are participating. Avoid going barefoot.
- Exercise caution when walking on uneven surfaces or when exercising on rough terrain.
- If you feel pain during your activity, slow down or stop and rest. Call your doctor if pain persists.
Foot and ankle sprains can most often be easily treated, but you should always seek professional care for your injuries. If you or a loved one is experiencing a foot or ankle sprain, contact us today.