Skip to main content

What Should You Do for a Sprained Ankle?

Feb 29, 2016


Sprained ankles are relatively common injuries, particularly for people who are active or play sports. Stepping on an uneven surface or landing the wrong way when jumping can easily cause an ankle injury.

Even if you think your injury is relatively benign, it is important to get medical attention. An untreated ankle sprain could lead to additional complications. Contact your Long Island medical center doctor to get prompt treatment for ankle pain.

What Is an Ankle Sprain?

Numerous ligaments support the bones of the ankle, permitting movement in a particular range of motion. If excess force is placed on the ankle, especially if it overextends the ankle or bends it in a way it isn't meant to bend, a ligament may be torn. This is the phenomenon we call an ankle sprain.

Ankle sprains are very common and can happen during nearly any activity. A sprained ankle is particularly likely if the ankle becomes twisted beneath the leg. This often occurs during sports involving jumping, such as basketball or soccer. Spraining your ankle once puts you at greater risk of a future injury for the rest of your life.

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

The primary symptom of a sprained ankle is pain. This may feel like a sharp, stabbing pain when placing weight on the affected foot. You may also notice bruising, redness, swelling or warmth in the affected area. An ankle sprain causes a restricted range of motion, making it difficult to move comfortably and perform everyday activities.

In some cases, people hear a popping sound when they experience an ankle injury. However, this is not a necessary symptom for an ankle sprain.

Diagnosis and Treatment for a Sprained Ankle

Our Long Island orthopedic specialists are skilled at diagnosing and treating sprained ankles as well as related problems. Expect your orthopedic specialist to perform a physical examination of the ankle. An X-ray may be ordered to determine that there are no signs of fracture or bone injury. Other injuries can mimic the signs of a sprained ankle, making it important to get an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment depends on the severity of the ankle sprain. In mild cases, conservative treatment at home is sufficient to promote healing. This may include taking over-the-counter pain medications (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen) and getting plenty of rest. Ice and elevate the injured ankle in the 72 hours following injury.

For moderate to severe ankle sprains, walking with the aid of crutches can help you avoid placing weight on the ankle. A special ankle wrap or compression bandage may help to immobilize the joint. Furthermore, physical therapy can strengthen surrounding muscles and improve range of motion.