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Sprained Ankle

Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Specialists in Orange County

A sprained ankle occurs when ligaments supporting the ankle are torn, typically as a result of being stretched beyond their limits. Ligaments, which are fibrous tissues connecting bones, help stabilize joints and keep bones in their proper position. When an ankle sprain occurs, it can cause instability in the joint.

Sprained ankles are common injuries that affect people of all ages, often as a result of falls, running or walking on uneven surfaces, and twisting or rolling of the ankle, especially during activity and sports. They can range from mild to severe sprains, depending on the extent of damage to ligaments.

Although ankle sprains are common injuries, they are not always minor injuries. While minor ankle sprains can heal on their own with home treatment such as rest, ice, compression and elevation, more serious ankle sprains that cause pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight or walking may require further treatment from an ankle specialist. Without medical intervention, proper treatment, and rehabilitation, severe sprains can weaken the ankle joint and make it more susceptible to injury. Repeat sprains can also lead to long-term problems, including arthritis, chronic pain, and ankle instability.

Hoag Orthopedic Institute has cultivated a national reputation for clinical excellence in orthopedic care, including treatment of conditions and disorders affecting the foot and ankle. Our team of ankle surgeons and orthopedic specialists focus on providing the highest quality care to diagnose ankle sprains and provide personalized treatment plans.

Diagnosing a Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains can be diagnosed through physical examinations with an ankle specialist, which may include tests to determine which ligaments have been injured and the ankle’s range of motion. When there are no ankle fractures, a sprain may be diagnosed from a physical exam, but further imaging tests, including X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound, may be used to identify whether fractures have occurred and the severity of damage to ligaments as classified by grade:

  • Grade 1 Ankle Sprain – Mild sprains involving microscopic tearing of ligament fibers, mild swelling, and tenderness.
  • Grade 2 Ankle Sprain – Moderate sprains in which ligaments have been partially torn, looseness when the ankle joint is moved, and moderate swelling and tenderness.
  • Grade 3 Ankle Sprain – Severe sprains where ligaments have been completely torn, there is significant instability of the ankle, and substantial tenderness and swelling around the joint.

Treating a Sprained Ankle

Most ankle sprains can be treated effectively through conservative or non-surgical approaches, even if a ligament is completely torn. Depending on severity, sprained ankle treatment may consist of:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Rest and restricted movement or non-weight-bearing activities
  • Protecting the ankle with a cast or boot
  • Physical therapy to gradually restore function, range of motion, strength, and flexibility

By working together to create customized treatment plans, our podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine doctors, nurses, and physical therapists can help patients navigate their treatment plans to restore their health and return to the activities they enjoy. Most patients recover from a sprained ankle in several weeks, or within 6 to 12 weeks for more severe ankle sprains.

Find an Ankle Specialist at Hoag Orthopedic Institute Today

Treating an ankle sprain and finding a treatment program that gets you back on your feet and fully active, begins with seeking attention from top ankle specialists who prioritize the health and unique goals of patients. At Hoag Orthopedic Institute, we are dedicated to providing sound orthopedic care and comprehensive patient-focused services in state-of-the-art facilities.

To learn more about our treatment options, call (949) 705-6493 or find an ankle specialist using our online physician directory.

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