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When This #1 Reason for Missing Games Requires a Specialist: Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are common in relation to orthopedic foot and ankle care. So common that they’re reportedly the number one reason athletes sit out practices and games. So, what causes them and when is a specialist needed?

Ankle Sprain Cause

Strong ligaments surround our ankles, but sometimes we stretch them beyond their limits. When this happens tears can occur. The severity of these tears can vary, but they all fall under the category of sprains. Variations occur with how many ligaments are involved and how big the tears are.

When proper rest, treatment, and rehabilitation aren’t heeded, the ankle can become weakened which increases the likelihood of future injuries. Furthermore, chronic ankle pain and arthritis are both possible long-term conditions related to repeated sprains.

Signs of an Ankle Sprain

Broken bones and severe sprains can look very similar, so how do you know if your ankle is sprained? While the type and severity can fluctuate fairly significantly, there are several indicators to evaluate, including:

  • Bruising
  • Instability
  • Pain at rest and when putting weight on it
  • Swelling
  • Tender

When injuries verge from sprain territory to breaks, there are a few key indicators:

  • When an ankle is broken, it difficult to support your body weight
  • Pain from a break tends to be more constant than a sprain
  • Ice and/or elevation often provide some relief to a sprain where it doesn’t typically do that for a break

If you think your ankle is broken, seek immediate medical attention. Once your emergent situation is addressed, your next stop will be to see an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist.

So You’re Pretty Sure You’ve Sprained Your Ankle. Now what?

It’s time to see a doctor to confirm your ankle sprain. If through the specialist’s exam, your ankle sprain diagnosis is officially confirmed, you’ll find out what classification your ankle sprain is: Grade 1, 2, or 3. From there, you’ll find out your treatment plan.

Treatment plans for sprains don’t typically call for intensive treatment. The most important part is immobilization, rest and ice. If you have a more severe sprain, you may be given a walking boot, air cast, or even a plaster cast. Swelling and pain should start improving in two or three days. Once that happens, you can begin rehabilitating the injury by focusing on range-of-motion, strengthening, and balance exercises. Then you’ll gradually return to pre-injury activity levels.

Time to Call an Orthopedic Specialist?

Our foot and ankle orthopedic specialists are always available to help with a suspected ankle sprain or break, but did you know that we also have urgent care locations? Schedule an appointment online anytime.