When you sprain your ankle, the pain from the stretched or torn ligaments might seem unbearable. How you handle the recovery process from a sprained ankle is vital to healing the tissues in the joint.
At Peninsula Orthopedic Associates, our team gives you the recovery tips you need when a sprained ankle sidelines you. The team is made up of 10 highly trained orthopedic specialists, who offer a number of cutting-edge treatments for orthopedic problems like ankle sprains.
What is a sprained ankle?
Your ankle joint is a hinge joint, which consists of three bones coming together: the fibula, the tibia, and the talus. Your joint also has several ligaments and tendons that allow it to move and flex.
A sprained ankle occurs when you abnormally roll or twist the ankle, causing the ligaments to stretch past their normal capacity. The ligaments can also sustain tiny tears, leaving you in pain.
The ligaments are normally tight, because they help to keep the bones in your ankle joint stable. When you sprain your ankle, these ligaments loosen, causing a number of symptoms besides pain.
The ligaments on the outside of your ankle are most often damaged in a sprain, which can happen for a number of reasons, including sports participation and slips or falls. Jumping and landing incorrectly or exercising on uneven surfaces increase your risk for a sprained ankle.
Symptoms of a sprained ankle
When you sprain your ankle, you likely know right away that something is wrong. When the ligament stretches around the joint, you experience symptoms such as:
- Ankle instability
- Decreased range of motion
- Pain with bearing weight
Sometimes you may hear a popping sound when you sprain your ankle; that’s the ligament stretching past its normal range.
If you think you’ve sprained your ankle, it’s important to seek medical treatment quickly. Failing to get treatment can impair the use of the ligament, or cause bigger issues later on.
Steps to your recovery
When you’re diagnosed with a sprained ankle, there are a few things you need to do for a successful recovery, and our specialists quickly get you on the road to recovery.
In the first few days after your ankle sprain, the swelling and pain may be severe. To aid in reducing these symptoms, our team suggests using anti-inflammatory medications and RICE — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These are your best friends during the recovery process.
No matter the severity of your sprain, our team often has you enroll in physical therapy. This treatment strengthens the muscles around the ankle joint to prevent further injury. It also helps you reduce pain in the ankle.
Exercises specific to your ankles and legs are a good idea after your pain lets up and the swelling goes down. This strengthens your leg and ankle muscles to promote better balance and keep you from reinjuring the ankle.
Instead of embarking on any recovery steps on your own, consult the team so you know that what you’re doing is in the best interest of your ankle.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery time for an ankle sprain varies, based on the severity of the sprain and your symptoms. A successful recovery starts with getting treatment from our experienced orthopedic specialists.
Mild to moderate sprains can take 2-6 weeks to fully heal. This is usually true for grade 1 and grade 2 sprains, where there’s only stretching of the ligament or mild tearing.
A grade 3 sprain, however, could take several months, because it indicates fully tearing or rupturing the ligament. These sprains require many more steps during the recovery process.
If you’ve sprained your ankle and need expert care, call our office in Daly City, California, today, or book an appointment online with one of our doctors now.