An ankle sprain is a medical condition that often takes some time to heal. The amount of time you spend off your foot depends on the severity of the sprain. Some injuries are so minor that you might feel better the next day, but other sprains are more severe and may leave you using crutches for a few weeks. A sprain can occur because you twisted your ankle when stepping down from a high spot, because you fell into a small hole, or because you overused the joint. The type of treatment your doctor will recommend depends on the severity of the sprain.
Symptoms of a Sprain
The most common symptom of a sprained ankle is inflammation. When you sprain your ankle, you damage the ligaments around the joint. Your body will send blood cells to fight the injury and help your ankle recover, which leads to swelling. You will experience some pain as well, which can range from a mild discomfort to an intense pain that hurts when you attempt to stand on your foot. Many also find that the pain worsens when they attempt to move the ankle. You may also notice some minor bruising around the ankle or the bottom of your foot.
Diagnosing a Sprain
If you fear that you sprained your ankle, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will start with a simple examination of your foot, which lets him or her see how much pain or discomfort you have as a result of the injury. Doctors will often require that you have x-rays taken as well. This is especially important in cases with a high level of inflammation. The x-rays will determine if you have a sprain or if you broke any bones in your ankle.
Treating Sprained Ankles
Immobilization is the most common treatment for a sprained ankle. Immobilization involves the use of an elastic bandage or a cast that keeps your ankle from moving and gives your body time to heal from the injury. The doctor may recommend that you wear an air cast, which lets you walk but keeps the joints and bones from moving. You’ll also want to take medications to reduce your pain and use ice packs to reduce inflammation. Depending on the type of sprain, you may need physical therapy as well. Making an appointment lets your foot doctor diagnose you and decide on the best treatment plan for your sprain.