At Slocum Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, several of our orthopedic surgeons specialize in sprained ankles. The Slocum Center has been caring for ankle injuries and conditions for many years. For this reason, your sprained ankle will be treated by a team whose experience is virtually unmatched in Eugene, the surrounding areas of Oregon, and throughout the Northwest.
Sprain of the ligaments around the ankle joint is a very common injury. Twenty thousand people experience sprains of the ankle every day.
A sprained ankle means that one or more of the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle are stretched or torn. Occasionally, the ligaments on the inner side of the ankle can be sprained as well. The most common force associated with a sprained ankle is a turning in of the ankle, placing abnormal stresses on the lateral ligaments. The initial symptoms are swelling, bruising, and pain with weightbearing.
The degree of pain and swelling is related to the degree of injury to the ligaments. It can be either a Grade I, II, or III. A Grade I injury is mild stretching of the ligaments and a Grade III injury is complete tear of the ligaments.
Appropriate treatment can decrease the chance of the ligamentous injury becoming a problem at a later date.
For Grades I and II sprains, the standard treatment for a sprained ankle is to follow R.I.C.E. guidelines.
- Ice the ankle to decrease swelling.
- Compress with bandages to help immobilize and decrease swelling.
- Elevate the ankle above the heart for approximately 48 hours.
A Grade III sprain is associated with complete tearing of one or two ligaments. Occasionally, surgery is necessary. The majority of the time, however, the injury can be treated nonoperatively. Sometimes the ankle may be placed into a short leg cast for 2-3 weeks or a walking boot while the swelling decreases and the inflammation resolves. If the ankle is sprained multiple times, there may be a need for surgical repair to tighten the stretched ligaments.
Following ankle sprains, rehabilitation of the ankle is extremely important. Without an appropriate rehabilitation program, there is an increased chance of repeat injuries to the affected ankle.
Recovery involves three phases:
- Phase I includes resting and icing to reduce the swelling of the injured ankle.
- Phase 2 includes restoring the ankle's range of motion and strength. The strength needs to be restored in all directions; that is, up, down, in and out.
- Phase 3 includes gradually returning to straight-ahead activities and progressing to cutting activities.