A sprained ankle can be painful, limiting your ability to walk. Usually, rest and simple at-home measures can help a mild ankle sprain heal within a week.
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Most people experience discomfort after spraining an ankle. Right after an injury, it can be hard to know if you indeed sprained your ankle or just twisted it a little. It is usually painful to move or stand on your leg, sometimes to the point of severely limiting your movement. With a minor bump or twist, discomfort would likely get better within a few hours. Bruising moves toward the toes in the days after the ankle sprain as gravity pulls the blood down in the foot.
An ankle sprain should not cause true weakness. If your leg or foot is weak, you may have an injury that involves more than your ankle, or a broken bone, muscle impairment, or nerve damage. Moderate pain and swelling are to be expected following a simple sprained ankle, but severe ankle pain, bone pain, or inability to stand should raise concern. Seek urgent care if any of the following apply:. An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments that support the ankle. Ligaments are structures that connect bones to each other within a joint.
They stabilize and help control the degree and direction of joint movements, such as in the ankle. When a ligament is stretched too far or is partially or completely torn , a sprain occurs. This happens due to sudden sideways or twisting movement of the foot that usually occurs when a person lands from jumping or running onto an uneven surface. For example, you can sprain your ankle if you come down from a basketball layup and land on another player's foot.
Ankle sprains also occur with routine daily activities such as stepping off a curb or slipping on ice. Ankle sprains are evaluated based on a careful physical examination. There are several ways to categorize your sprained ankle based on the location of your pain and bruising, and the extent of ligament damage. There are three major categories used to describe a sprained ankle, which vary based on the direction of the injury and its location.
Grading of a sprained ankle describes the severity of the ligament injury. The intensity of the symptoms tends to correlate with the extent of ligament damage. The grading scale can give a sense of the prognosis for recovery:. When the symptoms and physical evaluation do not completely correspond with an ankle sprain, imaging tests or other evaluations may help.
Early treatment of a sprained ankle can help speed recovery and minimize symptoms so you can return to your normal activities. A medical professional can assess the problem and advise you about recovery. Pain relief and comfort are important in the first few days after your injury. Often, it is what you do at home that determines how quickly you will recover and whether you will have any lasting damage. Treatment begins with a standard R. Giving your injured ankle some rest limits swelling and inflammation and helps prevent further injury to the joint.
Don't walk on your sprained ankle for a few days, and be sure to protect it. Your doctor may give you a splint or brace to immobilize it and protect it from further injury. So that you're not entirely inactive, try using crutches to get around, which take pressure and stress off the injured joint and allow swelling to subside.
15 Exercises for Your Sprained Ankle
Diagnosis During a physical, your doctor will examine your ankle, foot and lower leg. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Share on: Facebook Twitter. References Sprained ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Accessed May 25, Maughan KL. Ankle sprain.
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Kaminski TW, et al. National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: Conservative management and prevention of ankle sprains in athletes. Journal of Athletic Training. How to care for a sprained ankle. Safran MR, et al.
How Long Does It Take for a Sprained Ankle to Heal?
In: Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. Do 8 to 12 repetitions of these exercises once or twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the severity of your injury. You can usually start balance and control exercises when you are able to stand without pain. But talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the exact timing.
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Also, don't try these exercises if you could not have done them easily before your injury. If you think you would have felt unsteady doing these exercises when your ankle was healthy, you are at risk of falling when you try them with an injured ankle. Stretching exercises should be continued on a daily basis and especially before and after physical activities to help prevent reinjury.
An Overview of a Sprained Ankle
Even after your ankle feels better, continue with strengthening exercises and balance and control exercises several times a week to keep your ankles strong. Blahd, Jr.
Author: Healthwise Staff. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.
Start rehab with range-of-motion exercises in the first 72 hours after your injury. Continue with further rehab, including stretching, strength training, and balance exercises, over the next several weeks to months. You can do rehab exercises at home or even at the office to strengthen your ankle. How to do rehabilitation exercises for an ankle sprain Start each exercise slowly and use your pain level to guide you in doing these exercises.
Range-of-motion exercises Range-of-motion exercises begin right after your injury. Try the following simple range-of-motion exercises : Trace the alphabet with your toe, which encourages ankle movement in all directions. Trace the alphabet 1 to 3 times. Sit in a chair with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly move your knee side to side while keeping your foot pressed flat. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes. Stretching exercises Start exercises to stretch your Achilles tendon as soon as you can do so without pain.