Degrees of Damage
When a sprain occurs, the connective tissues that hold the joint together become strained or even torn. Athletes are at risk due to the amount of twists, turns, jumps, and sudden starts and stops that are often in most types of sports. There is a lot of stress that can be put on the ankle. Overtraining, a wrong step, or collision with another player can each lead to a painful sprain. Even with a minor twist, you would likely feel a sharp, sudden pain and weakness in the ankle. The joint often swells and may also bruise. The instability from the stretched or torn ligaments can make it hard for the ankle to support any weight and it may hurt to even move.
A sprain can range from mild to severe. There are actually three degrees. A mild sprain involves some stretching and minimal swelling. A medium sprain will have some partially torn tissues, it may feel loose when you try to move it and will have more swelling. Severe sprains are very painful and include a ligament rupture. You would notice serious swelling and a complete inability put any weight on the foot.
The Right Recovery
A sprain needs to be treated appropriately from the moment of injury. If you were to continue playing on it or using it—even if the sprain was mild—the damage would increase. A slight sprain could lead to a full rupture. Without adequate rest and treatment, the damaged tissues will not heal properly and could result in a chronically weakened ankle that is at risk for re-injury.
Repairing the damage starts with rest. Dr. Harvey Danciger will be able to evaluate the severity of the damage and rule out any further injury such as a fracture. We may use X-rays to assess the extent of the damage. Then, Dr. Danciger can create a tailored treatment plan for the degree of sprain that has occurred.
You will most likely need to take a break from athletic activities and may need to remove all weight from the injured foot if the sprain is severe. Anti-inflammatory medications can help with swelling and a wrap or brace can stabilize the ankle during healing. To keep swelling down, we often encourage patients to keep the injured foot elevated. Through careful monitoring, we will also be able to help you determine the best time to engage in activity once again. In certain cases, physical therapy may be needed to build up your strength and stability.
Ankles sprains may seem like a simple injury at the start but they can lead to significant pain and ankle weakness later on if you do not treat them properly. If you are a sports fanatic, ignore the “no pain, no gain” attitude and deal with a sprain right from the onset. You will find relief and avoid future complications. For an appointment, contact Dr. Harvey Danciger by calling (760) 568-0108.