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Diagnosis and Treatment of a Sprained Ankle

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Diagnosis and Treatment of a Sprained Ankle

Ligaments form an essential part of the ankle. Without them, ankles would be unstable and unable to absorb surface shock when walking or running.

Torn or stretched ligaments result in an injury known as an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains can be mild or severe, and diagnosing a sprained ankle correctly depends on the severity of the sprain.

Immediate treatment is vital for ankle injuries to ensure that patients regain the full range of motion and recover completely.

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

It is easy to sprain an ankle. All it takes is for the foot to bend inward at an unnatural angle. This bending motion causes the ligaments to stretch or tear, resulting in pain and swelling. Other symptoms of a sprained ankle include the following:

  • Ankle weakness and an inability to walk on the affected foot.
  • Deep bruising of the skin around the affected ankle.
  • Sudden stiffness and a decreased range of motion.
  • Tenderness when touching the area over the ankle joint.

Ankle fractures can be mistaken for a bad ankle sprain. The ankle is likely fractured if it is numb or tender after rolling or twisting.

Sprained Ankle Causes

Several activities can contribute to the risk of a sprained ankle. These activities include athletics, sports, dancing and jogging. The following are the main reasons for ankle sprains:

  • Rolling the ankle while walking or running up a hill or hiking a trail.
  • Twisting the ankle while walking up or down stairs.
  • The impact from a motor vehicle accident.
  • Falling or landing hard on the ankle, causing it to bend or twist inward.

sprained ankle

Diagnosing a Sprained Ankle

If you are in a lot of pain after twisting your ankle, you must see a doctor for a diagnosis. Diagnosing a sprained ankle relies on a physical exam during which a doctor may rotate the ankle joint to check for stiffness and decreased range of motion.

For severe injuries, the doctor may request an ultrasound, MRI or X-ray to check whether the cartilage or ankle joint suffered any damage.

Sprained Ankle Treatment

A mild ankle sprain can be successfully treated at home using the RICE method.

  • Rest: Let the ankle rest for a few days to allow the ligaments to heal.
  • Ice: Apply ice several times a day to reduce pain and swelling. However, the ankle shouldn't be iced longer than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Compression: If the ice isn't having the desired effect on the swelling, bandage the ankle with an elastic bandage. Doing this will help reduce the swelling over a day or two.
  • Elevation: Elevate the ankle above the heart to reduce blood flow to the injury site.

Painful sprained ankles must be examined by a doctor, who will provide further treatment options for the days and weeks ahead.

Preventing a Sprained Ankle

It is possible to prevent a sprained ankle by following these tips:

  • Stretch before and after exercise.
  • Condition muscles to improve balance.
  • Correct posture and learn to safely jump, dive, land and pivot.
  • Include vitamin D as part of a daily nutritional diet.
  • Wear proper shoes for different activities.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care

Visit ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care for Sprained Ankle Treatment

Sprained ankles are painful and can lead to complications, such as chronic pain, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, ankle instability and recurring injury if not treated correctly.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care provides patients with quality care and services. Staff are ER-trained to determine patient conditions, and patients only pay for the level of service they receive - either ER or urgent care. The emergency department is open 24/7 and the urgent care clinic is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. You don't need an appointment. All walk-ins are welcome.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care is located at 1075 Medical Center Parkway, Maumee, OH 43537.