There’s a good chance that at some point in your life you’ll sprain an ankle. You don’t have to be an athlete or even moderately active; you could just be walking down the street or stepping off a curb. And you wouldn’t be alone. Every day in the United States, more than 25,000 people sprain an ankle, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain is a common, painful injury that occurs when one or more of the ankle ligaments is stretched beyond the normal range of motion. Sprains can occur as a result of sudden twisting, turning or rolling movements.
Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon for Optim Orthopedics. He specializes in the foot and ankle and sees hundreds of sprained ankle cases each year. His advice to anyone experiencing an ankle injury is to immediately start “RICE”:
-Rest your ankle.
-Ice should be applied. You can use an ice pack, cold spray or even a bag of frozen peas.
-Compression – Wrap up your ankle in a compression bandage, like an ACE wrap
-Elevate – Prop up your injured foot to a level higher than the level of your heart. This should be done as often as possible for the first 48 hours.
When should you see a doctor?
According to Dr. Goldberg: “If it’s really bothering you, I definitely recommend getting it checked out. It’s easy to think you have an ankle sprain when it’s actually a fractured ankle. With certain types of ankle sprains, you could actually make the injury worse if you keep walking on it. If it’s not getting better, if you can’t walk, if your ankle feels unstable or feels like it’s starting to give, just come get it checked out.”
Dr. Goldberg sees patients at Optim Orthopedics locations in Hinesville, Richmond Hill, Reidsville and Savannah.
What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?
Symptoms of an ankle sprain vary depend on the degree of ligament damage. Sprains are ranked in three degrees.
A first-degree sprain is a slight stretching of one or more ligaments. This results in mild tenderness. A second-degree sprain is a partial tearing that results in moderate tenderness and swelling. The ankle may have some instability. A third-degree sprain, the most severe, is a complete ligament tear. This results in severe pain, swelling and ankle instability.
What is the treatment for a sprained ankle?
Treatment for an ankle sprain depends on the severity of the injury. Treatment usually begins with rest, ice, compression and elevation. A first-degree sprain typically requires a bandage wrap. A second-degree sprain may require an ankle brace.
A third-degree sprain may require a cast or walking boot. As the ankle heals, these patients typically benefit from physical therapy.
According to Dr. Goldberg, surgery is only necessary in the small percentage of patients who develop ankle instability.
Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, is a board certified and fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in all types of foot and ankle conditions and procedures. Dr. Goldberg is pictured with his Medical Assistant Catheryn Brewington.