If you’ve ever experienced the sharp pain and crippling discomfort of a sprained ankle, you’re not alone. This condition is one of the most common injuries in the world, affecting millions of people of all ages, and the causes are surprisingly varied. In 2010, the rate of ankle sprains seen in US emergency departments was 3.29 per 1,000 people per year.
In this blog, we'll explain why you should never ignore a sprained ankle, and how to best diagnose and treat it. With the right guidance and medical care, a sprained ankle can heal, so don't delay in seeking out the best treatment for your injury.
A sprained ankle is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle joint, typically caused when the ankle is twisted or turned in an unnatural way. It is a very common injury, especially among athletes. With proper treatment and a gradual return to physical activity, a sprained ankle can usually be healed within several days or weeks.
The symptoms and signs of a sprained ankle depend on the severity of the injury. The common symptoms include:
Pain is one of the most common symptoms and can vary in intensity depending on how severe the sprain is. Pain may range from mild to severe and can be accompanied by swelling, bruising, and joint instability.
Swelling is a common symptom of a sprained ankle. Without proper treatment, swelling can cause lasting damage, so it's important to seek medical attention.
Bruising—or contusions—occur when the thin layers of tissue underneath the skin are damaged and the small blood vessels leak blood. The damaged blood vessels cause the skin to discolor with red, blue, or purple spots. Bruising can quickly become large and worsen if not treated properly.
Limited mobility is a common symptom of a sprained ankle. It occurs when the ligaments of the ankle are damaged, affecting its range of motion. Typical signs of limited mobility include pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and reduced strength.
After an ankle sprain, the damaged ligaments don't always heal perfectly, leaving the ankle less stable and more prone to further injury. To prevent further sprains, ankle stabilizing exercises and bracing can be useful preventative measures.
If you feel a snapping, popping, or ripping sensation when you sprain your ankle, it could be caused by a tear of the ligaments or taken as a sign of serious sprains.
When you touch the injured area, you may feel extreme tenderness or pain in the area of the sprain.
If you've suffered a sprained ankle, leaving it untreated can have serious long-term consequences. Not only will it leave you in extreme agony and immobility, but an untreated sprained ankle can worsen and cause further injuries.
When an ankle is sprained, the ligaments in the ankle joint stretch and tear, causing extreme pain and swelling. If left untreated, the ligaments can become permanently weakened, creating an unstable joint and preventing the joint from functioning properly. This weakens the entire lower leg, making it difficult to walk properly.
With inadequate treatment, the swollen tissues around the joint can also turn into scar tissue and cause chronic pain. This can lead to a person having to modify their walking technique, making them more prone to future injuries. In some cases, a person with an untreated sprained ankle can develop severe osteoarthritis over time. The combination of a loose joint and inflammation can cause severe joint damage.
A sprained ankle should be taken seriously. If you first receive proper care, such as immobilizing the joint, applying ice, and taking anti-inflammatory medication, your recovery will be quicker and your joint will be more stable.
By seeking medical care immediately and following any prescribed rehabilitation program, you significantly reduce your chances of developing any long-term consequences. In the end, it’s important to recognize the risks of leaving a sprained ankle untreated and to seek proper medical care as soon as possible.
No one likes the pain and discomfort of a sprained ankle. Taking the necessary steps to help heal your sprained ankle can help ease the pain and discomfort and get you back to your high-energy lifestyle in no time.
Here are some tips on what you can do to help heal a sprained ankle:
Spraining an ankle can be extremely painful and may take weeks to heal. Luckily, there are a few simple tips to help reduce your risk of spraining an ankle.
Are you living in or near Florida and suffering from a sprained ankle? Get the treatment you need fast and effectively at your local Florida Foot and Ankle clinic! From diagnostic services to surgical and non-surgical treatments, our team of podiatrists in Miami can get you back on your feet in no time.
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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.