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Ankle Sprains

Asheville treatments for Ankle Sprains

Signs, symptoms and information on how to treat a sprained ankle

If you have rolled or twisted your ankle, and now it is sore and swollen, you might wonder if you have a sprain, and how best to treat it.  Sprains are a common ankle injury, defined by injuring one or more of the ligaments that connect your lower leg bones to your foot.

Sprains can range from mild stretching of a ligament, to a complete ligament tear, and typically occur after a stumble, sudden twisting, or improper landing.

The good news is that with proper treatment from an experienced foot and ankle specialist, even severe ankle sprains can heal successfully.

What are the types of ankle sprains?

Ankle sprains are diagnosed based on the ligaments that are affected and the severity of the sprain. Most ankle sprains occur in the lateral ligaments, or the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. If you rolled or landed on the outside of your foot during your injury, you may have sprained the lateral ligaments. Sprains can also occur to the medial ligaments, which attach on the inside of the ankle, although this is less common.

Both lateral and medial sprains are categorized by grade of damage:

  • Grade 1, Mild Sprain: ligament is stretched with microscopic tears; pain and swelling are typically mild to moderate
  • Grade 2, Moderate Sprain: ligament is partially torn; pain and swelling considerable; ankle may feel loose or unstable
  • Grade 3, Severe Sprain: ligament is completely torn; significant pain and swelling; ankle is usually very unstable

How should I treat a sprained ankle?

Mild (grade 1) ankles sprains can often be treated successfully at home with rest, ice and temporary activity modification. However, it is always best to have your ankle evaluated and diagnosed by an orthopACL reconstructionedic doctor, preferably a foot and ankle specialist, to ensure you are treating your injury correctly.

Non-surgical treatment for ankle sprains

Most ankle sprains are successfully treated without surgery. Treatment protocols involve rest, management of pain and swelling, and prescribed physical therapy or exercises to restore strength to the ankle.  Treatments may include:

  • R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to reduce pain and swelling and promote healing
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as  ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve)
  • Using crutches to keep weight off the injured ankle while it heals
  • Immobilization with a boot or air cast; typical for Grade 2 and Grade 3 sprains
  • Physical Therapy. You may receive a list of at-home exercises, or be referred to a physical therapist for professional guidance. Exercises include stretching, strengthening, balance and agility training.

Typically, a sprained ankle will take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks to fully heal, depending on severity of injury.

Will I need surgery for a sprained ankle?

In some cases, surgery is the best option to treat a sprained ankle. Typically, surgery is recommended in the case of:

  • Poor response to non-surgical treatment
  • Repeated sprains due to persistent ankle instability
  • Presence of other injuries, such as a fracture, in addition to the sprain

Surgical techniques may include arthroscopy to remove loose bits of bone or cartilage, which are causing pain or impairing motion, or reconstruction of the ankle ligaments.

Contact us to meet with our foot & ankle specialist

If you suspect that you or a loved one have sprained an ankle, our team of board certified Asheville orthopedic surgeons can help. Call our office at Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine at 828-253-7521 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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