When the ligaments which support the ankle and allow the foot to function are injured or torn, it is referred to as a sprain. Ligaments keep the bones in place and are made up of durable bands of connective fibers. While the ligaments in the foot and ankle are meant to be elastic, a person can overload them which can cause them to overstretch or rip. An abrupt twist can force them to stretch beyond their ability and as a result the ligaments tear. Sprains are ranked by doctors using grades:
Individuals are at a greater risk for sprains if they:
Ankle sprains can display or produce:
In most cases, the more severe the symptoms, the more serious the damage to the ankle. To determine how bad the sprain is, the podiatrist will utilize x-rays to view the tissues and in some instances may perform an MRI.
Sprains can heal without intervention and, unfortunately, will have to in most cases. When the sprain is particularly bad, surgery can be performed to excise pieces of torn ligament, bone, and/or cartilage. Surgery can also be used to repair the ligament’s connection or rebuild it employing the biological material. Resting and icing the affected foot will be very helpful for all sprains and if needed the podiatrist can provide patients with a brace or supportive air cast. Compression bandages can be wrapped or worn, and the foot should be elevated to minimize the inflammation. Pain relieving drugs will also assist with managing discomfort during the initial healing period. The podiatrist can prescribe medications if the pain is especially troublesome.