Ankle sprain is a very common foot and ankle injury. It usually occurs in amateur athletes who have weak tendons and muscles around the ankle or in patients who often walk on different level or stairs.
Basically, ankle sprain can either recover in just a few days or can be very serious and needs urgent treatment before complications occur. This injury mostly occurs from inversion of the ankle and injury to lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
However, it is ranked based on severity. There are 3 grades of symptomatic sprained ankle as follows:
Grade I: only stretching and sprain of lateral collateral ligament (LCL) of the ankle, probably only a mild swelling and tenderness around the tendons.
Grade I I: partially ruptured LCL, normally lesser than 50% and moderate swelling and tenderness around the tendon. The patients start to develop difficulty in walking and bear their own weight.
Grade III: completely ruptured LCL, patients cannot walk on their own weight and have ankle instability.
The doctor will evaluate and start the treatment to get rid of the pain. If it is just a mild symptom, the doctor will elevate the affected foot, and a cold pack, analgesic drugs, ankle support or elastic bandage application will be used to treat the patient. For some patients who have severe swelling of the feet, they may need a cast or splint. After 5-7 days when the swelling and pain subsides, the physician will repeat the evaluation and patients will have physical therapy for recovery of the tendons, strengthening and proprioceptive exercise around the ankle for prevention of the recurrence of ankle sprain which mostly takes 4-6 weeks for the course of treatment.
However, if the initial treatment is not effective, the doctor will do physical examination, x-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for confirmation to identify the tendon involvement, severity of rupture and additional conditions such as Osteochondral Lesion of Talus, Peroneus Tendon or Syndesmotic injury, and consider to perform a surgical treatment. There are various operative procedures for ankle instability which can be orthoscopic or open surgery. The orthopedic surgeon will choose the most appropriate surgery to each and every patient for a best treatment result. The patient will be recommended to wear ankle protective shoes or ankle support, short heel shoes, and avoid walking on different level or stair; and avoid the sports which can easily cause ankle sprain.
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