Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries of the lower leg. There are so many ways you can twist your ankle in an awkward way: running, jogging, stepping on an uneven surface, and even just standing up and putting weight on a tired ankle can cause a sprain. When it happens, the ligaments that are holding your ankle bones and joints together are stressed in one of three ways:
- The twist of your ankle causes one or more ligaments to stretch beyond their normal limit. We call this a grade 1 sprain.
- The ligaments are stretched far enough to partially tear – grade 2 sprain.
- You have a grade 3 sprain if the ligaments stretch out so far that they tear right through.
The ankle sprains that we treat the most here at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center involve the outside of the ankle.
How do you know if you’ve sprained your ankle?
Any grade of ankle sprain is going to give you some degree of pain and swelling. Mild pain probably means that your ligaments are simply overstretched. Moderate pain along with some bruising probably means there are some torn ligaments. If you’re in a lot of pain and/or you can’t even put weight on your foot or ankle, your injury is most likely severe, meaning you’ve got a completely torn ligament.
Always consult an expert
The truth is that it’s difficult to self-diagnose the severity of an ankle sprain. Not treating it properly can mean problems with ankle stability in the future – and chronic ankle instability can lead to permanent damage to the structure of your ankle joint. For the best long-term outcome, be sure to get any ankle injury checked out by Fairfax County board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM.
Dr. Wilhelm will examine and manipulate your ankle. X-rays can be taken right here in our office to further evaluate the extent of the damage. Most ankle sprains will require rest, icing, compression (wrapping with a bandage), and elevation. You can also take anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling.