Sprained Ankle? Symptoms, Treatment, and FAQs

What does it feel like to have a sprained ankle?

When you overstretch or possibly tear the ligaments in your ankle it may classify as an ankle sprain. A sprain involves a ligament and a strain involves muscles or tendons. Both are painful and include swelling, pain, and difficulty in moving the affected area.

Sprained Ankle – Diagnosis 

There are 3 levels of Sprains:

  • Grade 1: This is not a tear, but a really good overstretch and results in pain
  • Grade 2:  Your pain is prolonged and there may be some swelling and bruising. In grade 2 you probably have a partial tear in the ligament and you may not be able to put full weight on your ankle.
  • Grade 3:  If you heard a popping sound you probably have a grade 3 sprain which is a full tear. Your pain will be significant as will the swelling and bruising. You won’t be able to bear weight and support yourself on your ankle as it will be too unstable.

Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Touch tender
  • Inability to bear weight

Treatment for a Sprained Ankle

How to heal a sprained ankle: Tips for a fast recovery

You have heard the term RICE for the treatment of sprains, and this is truly the fastest way to get good treatment and self care on your ankle sprain

  • Rest. Stay off your foot and just let the body be still! Can you do that?!
  • Ice. Ice the ankle for 15-20 mins at a time and repeat every 2-3 hours at the beginning
  • Compression. This will help with the swelling. Use a compression bandage or if you have socks and shoes on- DON’T take them off right away until you get some compression on it
  • Elevation. Keep your ankle on a few pillows to help with flow

A new acronym you may also have heard is M.I.C.E- M stands for Motion which means dorsiflex your foot and keep it in that position. Dorsiflexion is when your foot and ankle are in 90 degrees like you are just about to step on the gas pedal.

Frequently Asked Questions 

When to ice or heat an injury?

There is a lot of confusion as to when to use ice or when to use heat for an injury. In general, use ice for new immediate injury treatment and heat for chronic conditions.

How long should you ice an injury?

If you are using ice, ice it for 15-20 mins every 2-3 hours for the first couple of days of your injury. Try and put a barrier like a towel in between the ice pack and your skin to avoid a freeze burn on your skin.

Do sprained ankles heal by themselves?

Most low grade sprains will heel in a couple of weeks if you follow good rest and self care. Moderate to severe sprains may take from 4 weeks to 6 months to heal. Ligaments generally have poor blood flow which makes the healing process quite slow for fully torn ligaments.

Should I use ice or heat for pulled muscles?

When you initially pull the muscle use ice first and then transition to heat after 2 days to promote blood flow

Should I use ice or heat for swelling?

If the injury is new, use ice first to control the swelling and then transition to heat after a few days

Should I use heat or ice for muscle spasms?

Heat therapy is good for muscle spasms as it creates good blood flow. Massaging the area will also be helpful

Think you might have a sprained ankle? Call us today 289-245-6624 to make an appointment at Mobility on Mainway in Burlington and let one of our clinicians assess if you have a sprained ankle and the appropriate treatment for the grade of your sprained ankle.

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