Disease: Ankle sprain

A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together.

Ligaments help stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.

Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the injury. Although self-care measures and over-the-counter pain medications may be all you need, a medical evaluation might be necessary to reveal how badly you've sprained your ankle and to put you on the path to recovery.

Most ankle sprains involve injuries to the three ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that stabilize joints and help prevent excessive movement. An ankle sprain occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that help hold your ankle bones together.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
  • Swelling and, sometimes, bruising
  • Restricted range of motion

Some people hear or feel a "pop" at the time of injury.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor if you have pain and swelling in your ankle and you suspect a sprain. Self-care measures may be all you need, but talk to your doctor to discuss whether you should have your ankle evaluated. If your signs and symptoms are severe, it's possible you may have broken a bone in your ankle or lower leg.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

A sprain occurs when your ankle is forced to move out of its normal position, which can cause one or more of the ankle's ligaments to stretch, partially tear or tear completely.

Causes of a sprained ankle might include:

  • A fall that causes your ankle to twist
  • Landing awkwardly on your foot after jumping or pivoting
  • Walking or exercising on an uneven surface

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

During the physical exam, your doctor will check for points of tenderness. He or she will move the joint in various ways to check your range of motion and to see if a particular position or movement causes pain.

If the injury is severe, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging scans to rule out a broken bone or to better evaluate the soft tissue damage:

  • X-ray. During an X-ray, a small amount of radiation passes through your body to produce images of your internal structures. This test is good for evaluating bones.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs use radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures, including soft tissue injuries.
  • CT scan. CT scans can reveal more detail about the bones of the joint. CT scans take X-rays from many different angles and combine them to make cross-sectional images of internal structures of your body.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

A sprained ankle left untreated, engaging in activities too soon after spraining your ankle or spraining your ankle repeatedly might lead to the following complications:

  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic ankle joint instability
  • Early-onset arthritis in that joint

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Here are some things you can do to help prevent a sprained ankle.

  • Warm up before you exercise or play sports.
  • Be careful when walking, running or working on an uneven surface.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and are made for your activity.
  • Don't wear high-heeled shoes.
  • Don't play sports or participate in activities for which you are not conditioned.
  • Maintain good muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Practice stability training, including balance exercises.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

For immediate self-care of an ankle sprain, try the R.I.C.E. approach:

  • Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort.
  • Ice. Use an ice pack or slush bath immediately for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat every two to three hours while you're awake. If you have vascular disease, diabetes or decreased sensation, talk with your doctor before applying ice.
  • Compression. To help stop swelling, compress the ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling stops. Don't hinder circulation by wrapping too tightly. Begin wrapping at the end farthest from your heart.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling, elevate your ankle above the level of your heart, especially at night. Gravity helps reduce swelling by draining excess fluid.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Factors that increase your risk of a sprained ankle include:

  • Sports participation. Ankle sprains are a common sports injury. Sports that require rolling or twisting your foot, such as basketball, tennis, football, soccer and trail running, can make you vulnerable to spraining your ankle, particularly if you're overweight. Playing sports on an uneven surface also can increase your risk.
  • Prior ankle injury. Once you've sprained your ankle, or had another type of ankle injury, you're more likely to sprain it again.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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