Ankle sprains are a common and often underestimated injury that can affect just about anyone. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or have never played a sport in your life, the risk of spraining an ankle is always present. The Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center team explains the factors contributing to an ankle sprain, its symptoms, and the various treatment options.
Ankle sprain risks
Ankle sprains don’t discriminate by activity level. Athletes in sports like basketball, soccer, and tennis are notorious for experiencing these injuries due to the high-impact and rapid directional changes inherent to these sports.
You don't need to be an athlete to be at risk. Everyday activities can lead to an unexpected twist and sprain, particularly if you’re on uneven terrain or not wearing supportive footwear. Walking on a rocky path or stepping awkwardly off a curb can instantly twist an ankle.
Ankle sprain symptoms
Ankle sprain symptoms can range from mild to severe. Pain is often the first indicator, typically felt immediately after the incident and worsening with pressure or weight-bearing.
Swelling and bruising are also common, indicating inflammation and damage to the ligaments and surrounding tissues. In more severe cases, you might experience a limited range of motion and a feeling of instability in the ankle, making it difficult to walk or stand.
Effective treatment strategies
The treatment for an ankle sprain depends on its severity. Common treatment strategies include:
RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
The first line of treatment for ankle sprains, the RICE method, aims to reduce swelling, minimize pain, and speed up healing. Resting prevents further injury, ice reduces swelling, compression helps minimize swelling and immobilizes the injury, and elevation reduces swelling.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
Once the swelling and pain decrease, physical therapy can be crucial in regaining strength, flexibility, and balance. Our experienced and compassionate team will recommend physical therapy at the office for moderate to severe sprains.
Physical therapy helps restore strength, flexibility, and balance.
Bracing or taping
In some cases, especially in athletes, bracing or taping the ankle can provide additional support during activities. Using tape or bracing offers support and stability to the injured ankle during healing and when returning to physical activities.
Our team may recommend surgery for severe sprains or when conservative treatments fail. Surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or reconstruct the damaged ligaments.
How to prevent ankle sprains
Wearing appropriate footwear, engaging in strengthening exercises, and being cautious on uneven surfaces effectively reduce the risk of ankle sprains. Additionally, incorporating balance training into your routine can improve your ankle's stability and response to unexpected movements.
Ankle sprains, while common, should not be taken lightly. Prompt and appropriate treatment and preventive measures can significantly impact recovery and reduce the likelihood of future injuries. If you suspect you have an ankle sprain and want to discuss treatment options, call the office nearest you in Henderson or Las Vegas, Nevada, schedule an appointment online, or stop into the Fast Track Clinic and take advantage of our extended hours for urgent care needs like sprains.