A sprained ankle happens when your ankle is twisted, turned, or rolled in a manner that causes the ligaments to tear or stretch. An ankle sprain can vary in severity depending on the degree of pain and swelling and if the ligaments have been torn. Some types of ankle sprains can heal on their own with rest, while others may require treatment by an experienced podiatrist to recover fully.
Common Causes of Ankle Sprains
Participating in sports that require you to jump, twist, or make quick turns with your feet is a leading cause of an ankle sprain. While you can sprain your ankle while playing any sport, there are certain sports that come with a higher risk, including:
You don’t have to be an athlete to sprain your ankle. An ankle injury can happen for many reasons that have nothing to do with sports. The most common ankle sprains are caused by the following:
- Walking and tripping on an uneven surface
- Falling after losing your balance
- Landing incorrectly after jumping
- Wearing high heels or footwear that is not appropriate for the activity you are doing
- Having another person step or land on your foot
In addition, having a previous ankle sprain or another type of ankle injury makes you more prone to a sprain since your ankle may already be weak. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to complications such as:
- Arthritis in the ankle joint
- Chronic pain
- Long-term ankle instability
Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle and How to Treat it
When you sprain your ankle, you may hear a popping sound when the injury first occurs, and you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain when bearing weight on your ankle
- Difficulty walking and instability
- Tenderness when touching the ankle
- Bruising and swelling
- Stiffness in the ankle
- Skin discoloration
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult with a podiatrist for an evaluation. Your podiatrist will examine your foot and ankle to assess the injury and determine what ligaments have been injured. Imaging tests such as an X-ray may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, treatment options will be discussed based on the severity of the sprain.
How an Austin Podiatrist May Treat a Sprained Ankle
- Medication. An ankle sprain can be painful. You may be prescribed medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage pain after a sprain.
- Rest and elevation. Limiting your activities and elevating your foot higher than your heart can help with swelling.
- Ice. Applying ice to your ankle for 20 to 30 minutes three times a day can help reduce swelling.
- Compression. Your podiatrist may recommend wrapping your ankle in an elastic compression bandage to decrease swelling and to help keep your ankle stable.
- Brace. A brace or splint can be worn to hold your ankle in place while it heals.
- Walking aid. You may need crutches to keep weight off your ankle.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy may be needed to regain strength and mobility in your ankle after a sprain.
An ankle sprain rarely requires surgery. With proper treatment, it will usually heal after a few weeks. For more severe sprains, the healing time may be longer.
- Always wear the correct type of shoes for the sport or activity you are doing
- Warm up and stretch before exercising
- Avoid wearing shoes with a high heel
- Pay attention to the type of surface you are walking on
- Wear an ankle support or brace if you have previously injured your ankle
- See a podiatrist at the first sign of an ankle problem
Are You Looking for an Ankle Sprain Expert in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for ankle sprain care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.