Ankle sprains are caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the ankle bones of the foot, which may result in excessive stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments on the outside or inside of the ankle. The severity of the sprain will impact the amount of soft tissue and in some instances bone damage. If not properly treated, ankle sprains may develop chronic long-term problems.
Primary symptoms of ankle sprains are pain following the initial injury, with swelling, bruising and difficulty with weight bearing and other activities.
Initial treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation of the involved lower extremity. Any injury beyond a mild ankle sprain should be evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist, and injuries with significant pain and swelling should be evaluated at local emergency room to check for fracture. If you develop swelling with numbness in the foot or leg you should go immediately to a local emergency room for evaluation. In more significant injuries fracture of the one or both of the ankle bones can occur and in some instances may require surgical repair. The anterior talofibular ligament is the most frequently injured ligament in the body. Most anterior talofibular ligament injuries are typically relatively mild requiring rest and physical therapy at home or with the assistance of a physical therapist. In some instances ligament injuries will require surgical repair. Dr. Solon is happy to be able to provide his patients with state of the art ligament reconstruction using the same techniques that high caliber athletes receive for their ligament injuries that require surgical repair. Recent published studies have shown that improperly treated ankle sprains will go on to develop varying degress of ankle osteoarthritis within twenty-five years of the original injury. While not all ankle sprains require surgical repair, if you have ongoing discomfort that does not significantly improve within two weeks of the original injury, you should have a professional evaluate your injury.
To prevent ankle sprains, try to maintain strength, balance, and flexibility in the foot and ankle through exercising, stretching, and wear the correct shoe for the exercise or sport you are involve in.