Foot and ankle injuries are unfortunately very common. These types of injuries often occur when the ligaments that support the foot or ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. This can be very painful, and can limit your ability to walk or bear weight. A sprain to the foot or ankle can happen to anyone with symptoms that can range from mild to severe depending on the injury.
As podiatrists dedicated to better serving our community, we want to educate you on the types, treatment, and prevention associated with foot and ankle sprains. We are proud to provide quality care, treatment, and rehabilitation for various types of sprains and injuries.
Types of Sprains
When you seek treatment for a foot or ankle sprain, even if the injury is visible to the naked eye, your doctor may order imaging tests such as an x-ray, ultrasound, and/or MRI to rule out any broken bones.
Broken bones in the foot or ankle can often present the same symptoms as a sprain. After testing and confirming that it is a sprain, your doctor will then perform a more thorough examination to diagnose the type of sprain.
This will be determined by the severity of the injury. There are 3 types of sprains:
- Grade 1 Sprain – These sprains are considered mild with minimal damage to the ligaments supporting the foot or ankle. Most patients with a grade 1 sprain experience minor to mild swelling and tenderness around the injured area.
- Grade 2 Sprain – In more moderate cases, grade 2 sprains occur when the ligament supporting the foot or ankle is partially torn and causes moderate swelling and tenderness surrounding the affected area. Grade 2 ankle sprains can also cause a feeling of instability or looseness in the ankle joint.
- Grade 3 Sprain – This type of sprain is considered severe and occurs when the ligament supporting the foot or ankle is completely torn. Patients with a grade 3 sprain will experience significant swelling, pain, and tenderness around the injured area and often struggle with instability.
Treatment and Recovery
Your treatment and recovery will depend on the type of sprain and method of treatment. For most mild sprains, treatment can be achieved through a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE method). In more moderate to severe sprains, we may recommend one or a combination of immobilization, crutches, and/or physical therapy. In rare cases, surgery may be needed. This is often only suggested by your doctor after the injury has proven unresponsive to conservative treatments for a period of time. Other instances where surgery may be recommended include patients who have had repetitive ankle or foot injuries or instability even after non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation.
What can I do to prevent foot and ankle sprains?
While foot and ankle sprains are common, they can be prevented! Strong, flexible, and stable feet and ankles are less likely to experience an injury. We recommend the following practices to help promote foot and ankle health and lower your risk of injury:
- Always warm up before participating in physical activity.
- Avoid going barefoot.
- Exercise caution when walking on uneven surfaces or when exercising on rough terrain.
- Wear the appropriate footwear for the activity in which you are participating.
If you experience any form of pain during your activities, don’t push through the pain. Slow down or stop and rest. Call your doctor if pain persists. Foot and ankle sprains can most often be easily treated, but you should always seek professional care for your injuries.
For more information on foot and ankle sprains or to schedule an appointment, please contact Loren Miller, DPM today.