Treatment of sprained ankle depends on its severity
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
1/01/13 at 4:04 AM
Dear Doctor K: I recently sprained my ankle. I know I twisted it and that it hurts when I walk on it, but what exactly happened to my foot?
Dear Reader: Though you may sprain your ankle by twisting it, the words do not mean the same thing. A sprain is a tear of ligaments, which are the bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to one another at a joint.
It's the ligaments connecting the bones that give the ankle flexibility and strength. The ligaments stabilize a joint. When a joint is sprained, its torn or stretched ligaments can lose part or all of their ability to reinforce the joint and to keep it moving normally. In severe cases, the sprained joint can become unstable and loose.
Sprains cause pain and swelling. Additional symptoms depend on the severity of the sprain:
If you have a mild or moderate sprain, your doctor probably will recommend the RICE rule: Rest the joint; Ice the injured area soon after the injury to reduce swelling; Compress the swelling with an elastic bandage; and Elevate the injured joint.
- A mild sprain causes only microscopic tears. These tiny tears can stretch the ligament and cause some pain, but they do not significantly affect the stability of the injured joint.
- With a moderate sprain, the injured ligament is partially torn, and there is mild to moderate joint instability.
- With a severe sprain, the ligament is torn completely or pulled away from the place where it attaches to bone. There is significant joint instability.
A temporary sling or a brace, along with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, can also help. As joint pain subsides, a rehabilitation program can help to strengthen the muscles around your injured joint.
Treatment for a severe sprain depends on which ligament has been torn. Some torn ligaments can be repaired surgically; others must be replaced. Still others are treated with rehabilitation and a temporary cast.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106