How to Treat Ankle Sprain? What are the Symptoms of Ankle Sprain?
The foot is a structure consisting of thirty-three joints and many ligaments connected to these joints.
The foot is a structure consisting of thirty-three joints and many ligaments connected to these joints. Having many ligaments in the foot may cause sprains under unsuitable conditions.
What is Ankle Sprain?
The foot, which is responsible for carrying the body weight in physical activities in daily life, is a structure consisting of many bones and joints. There are hard fibrous tissues in the joint that are responsible for connecting the bones to each other. An ankle sprain may occur as a result of the rupture of these fibrous tissue ligaments in the foot. Foot sprains may occur as a result of participating in certain sports or occupational groups that expose the feet to abnormal twisting movements or bending.
Ankle sprain can be graded in three different ways, depending on the severity of the foot sprain. The degrees of ankle sprain are as follows:
- Grade 1: These types of foot sprains can cause microscopic tears or stretched ligaments. The injury resulting from a first-degree ankle sprain is quite mild.
- Grade 2: In this sprain, also called a moderate sprain, the stress in the ligaments may be more severe. In moderate ankle sprains, the ligaments may be partially torn.
- Grade 3: In third-degree ankle sprains, which are quite severe, the ligaments may tear completely. As a result of complete tearing of the ligaments, imbalances may occur in standing or difficulty in carrying the body weight on the foot.
Foot sprains can occur in different areas. Some of these regions are as follows:
- Midfoot: The central area containing the arch of the foot is called the midfoot. A midfoot sprain can occur in athletes due to an isolated flexion of the midfoot during practiced activity, such as a fall or collision (especially during snowboarding, windsurfing, horseback riding, or competitive diving). In female ballet dancers, abnormal bending of the ankle may occur during tiptoeing or jumping. In addition, midfoot fracture may occur during any stumble or fall.
- First Metatarsophalangeal joint: The joint located at the base of the big toe is called the metatarsophalangeal joint. Hyperextension (excessive bending backwards) of the big toe can cause a sprain of the metatarsophalangeal joint. This sprain may also be called turf toe.
Ankle sprain may occur as a result of foot strain. A sprain can occur when a ligament, which is the tissue that connects two bones in the joints, is stretched or torn. There are many structures in the foot structure where sprains can occur, such as many bones, joints and ligaments.
There are three categories of sprains assigned based on the severity of the injury. One of the most common tissue injuries in the foot is plantar fasciitis, which occurs in the connective tissue. Plantar fasciitis is a type of connective tissue that extends from the bottom of the foot to the heel.
Causes of Ankle Sprain
Feet are body organs that help us move in daily life. Any pressure on the ligaments in the foot may cause the ligaments to tear. Having previously suffered an ankle sprain is an important risk factor for this condition to reoccur. Some genetic factors, medications and chronic diseases may also increase the risk of sprains.
What are the Symptoms of Ankle Sprain?
In a mild or moderate midfoot sprain, your midfoot area will be swollen and tender, and there may be some local bruising (black and blue discoloration). For more severe sprains, you may not be able to put weight on your injured foot.
If you have turf toe, the base of your big toe will be painful and swollen.
In patients with ankle sprains, tendon ruptures and fractures may also occur.
Symptoms of a sprain or fracture of the ankle and foot:
- Pain that worsens when the patient puts weight on the injured foot
- Swelling or bruising
- There may be limited range of motion or instability.
Symptoms vary depending on the location and level of the sprain. Most people with an ankle sprain experience pain, tenderness, bruising and swelling in their feet. Symptoms typically originate at the site of the sprain, so if the torn ligament is closer to the side of your foot rather than the arch of your foot, symptoms will be more pronounced on the side. Pain level may not always indicate the severity of the injury. Sometimes fractures can be relatively painless, while simple soft tissue swellings can cause high levels of pain.
You may have difficulty putting weight on the affected foot, causing limping.
How is Ankle Sprain Diagnosed?
After reviewing your symptoms, your doctor may ask exactly how you injured your foot. He or she may also want to know about your occupation, leisure activities, participation in sports, any previous foot trauma or foot surgery, and the type of shoes you usually wear.
The doctor will then examine your feet and compare your injured foot with your uninjured foot. During this exam, your doctor will note any swelling or bruising, as well as any changes in flexibility or range of motion. Your doctor will also gently press and feel your injured foot to check for tenderness or bone abnormalities.
In general, the first preferred imaging method for joint disorders is x-ray. Your doctor may want to take x-rays of the foot and ankle from several angles. A computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the foot provides more detailed imaging of the bone and better indication of the nature of damage to the soft tissue.
MRIs are particularly useful for detecting stress fractures and soft tissue injuries such as ankle ligament sprains. If a patient has an ankle or foot fracture, the doctor may also order computed tomography (CT) scans, which provide a comprehensive view of the bones and joints. Ultrasound is a rapid examination that can show soft tissues in detail.
Most doctors can diagnose an ankle sprain through a physical examination. They will consider:
- swelling of the foot
- location of pain
- intensity of pain
Your doctor may also recommend an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the severity of the sprain. These imaging tests can help them rule out fractures or other injuries.
How to Treat Ankle Sprain?
You typically don’t need invasive treatment for an ankle sprain. Surgery is only necessary in rare cases. If your doctor determines that there is no bone fracture or ligament tear that requires surgery, treatment generally does not require hospitalization.
Treatment recommendations for most ankle sprains:
- Rest: Avoiding physical activities that put stress on the feet.
- Ice: Cold application can reduce swelling and pain, as well as impair circulation. Cold application can be done as recommended by the doctor.
- Compression: Wrapping your foot with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling can reduce pain and swelling, and bandaging should never be applied without consulting a doctor, as it can reduce circulation, just like cold application.
- Elevation: Elevating the foot to reduce swelling can reduce edema. Resting the foot by placing a pillow under it on another chair opposite you while sitting, and elevating it by placing a pillow under it while lying down may help reduce the swelling.
- Your doctor may also start medication to reduce pain and swelling.
For more severe midfoot sprains, especially in dancers and other professionals whose livelihoods depend on their feet, the doctor may immobilize the foot with a splint. As symptoms ease, you can gradually return to weight lifting and other normal activities, and you may be advised to begin a stretching and strengthening rehabilitation program. Because a serious midfoot sprain can seriously threaten the ability to function and quality of life, it is often important to follow specific treatment and rehabilitation regimens to ensure that the injured foot heals with an appropriate balance of flexibility and stability.