It’s all fun and games until someone sprains an ankle. Painful accidents can be both humiliating and agonizing at the same time. One little misstep and you’re down for the count. Whether you were being silly on a trail hike, jumping on a trampoline, or simply walking down the sidewalk in high heels, suffering from ankle sprains is uncomfortable all the way around.
The All Too Common Pain
Thousands of people experience the pain of a twisted ankle every day. It doesn’t happen just to athletes, either. This injury affects the elastic structures in our ankles called ligaments. The ligaments of our ankles work to hold our joints together and protect them twisting or rolling the wrong way. If they are accidentally stretched farther than normal through a twist, roll, turn, or bend, they can tear and become damaged, resulting in a sprain.
How Did This Happen?
If you live an active lifestyle, you’re more at risk than most. This injury is especially common in teens who are physically active, partaking in sports and activities that require rapid shifting movements of the feet and ankles. When the sole of the foot remains planted on the floor, and the ankle continues to roll, the ligament is over-stretched. Ankles generally turn outward and the outside ligaments are pulled too far.
The severity of sprains is different from one individual to the next and can vary from sprain to sprain. Different activities, varying amounts of pressure applied, and difference in the force behind the motion all determine how bad the sprain is. You may have heard a “pop” or may have fallen to the floor when you were injured, because the damaged ligaments couldn’t take the strain.
Degrees of Discomfort
At Sierra Foot & Ankle Center, we rate ankle sprains as grade one, grade two, or grade three. Depending on your symptoms we’ll determine the best possible plan for treating your feet. If the joint feels stiff and appears slightly swollen, yet you can still walk on the foot, we consider it a grade one sprain. With this grade, the ligament has been stretched, but not torn.
We describe a grade two sprain as a partial ligament tear. The ligament fibers are loose and allow the ankle to move in irregular positions. With this grade you may see bruising, swelling, and experience tenderness. Walking with this partial tear is still possible, but it will be painful.
If the ligament has been completely torn, you’ve undergone a grade three sprain. This sprain is so severe that applying pressure and trying to walk are extremely painful. The joint will bruise and swell immediately.
How Do I Fix My Ankle?
With grade one sprains, you can treat them at home. They require an adequate amount of rest and elevation, as well as the application of ice and compression. Dr. Victoria Melhuish recommends that the ankle be elevated above the heart for the first 48 hours after your incident. Ice should be applied for 20 to 30 minutes, four times a day, to keep the swelling and level of discomfort down. Use a compression bandage or elastic wrap to support and immobilize the joint while it’s healing.
For more serious sprains, contact our office. Call Sierra Foot & Ankle at (775) 783-8037 or make an appointment online to see Dr. Melhuish. We understand ankle sprains. Don’t let one trip you up—we’ll find a treatment plan that works for you!