All it takes is one misstep or fall while playing sports, running to catch up with the bus, or even going on a gentle walk. Suddenly, you experience that immediate pain and swelling that often means you have an ankle sprain.
Ankle sprains aren’t always serious injuries, but without the right treatment during the healing process, they can lead to improper healing and complications that lead to undesirable outcomes like a permanently unstable ankle. Here’s when board-certified podiatrist Thomas Rambacher, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA, from Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle in Mission Viejo, California, recommends you get specialist care for an ankle sprain.
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain is an injury of the ligaments in your ankle, which occurs when some or all of these ligaments become torn or stretched out. Ankle sprains are common sporting injuries that can also occur whenever you experience a fall, land in a strange position after a jump, or step awkwardly on an uneven surface.
After an ankle sprain, you immediately feel pain in the ankle, especially if you attempt to bear weight on it. It’s also common to experience swelling, bruising, redness, and tenderness around the ankle. You sometimes hear the ankle pop when the injury occurs.
Ankle sprains vary in their severity. In minor injuries, your ankle feels painful and swollen but can still bear weight, while in more severe ligament sprains, you might be completely unable to put weight on your ankle.
Getting specialist care for an ankle sprain
All ankle sprains have the potential to develop severe complications, even if they seem minor at first. Improper healing can make your ankle permanently painful, chronically unstable, and at greater risk for developing arthritis and further ankle injuries.
You can help your ankle sprain heal with proper care at home, but that’s only one part of supporting this injury. To ensure your ankle fully recovers after a sprain, Dr. Rambacher recommends you always seek medical care, even if the injury seems minor.
By making an appointment with Dr. Rambacher as soon as possible after a suspected ankle sprain, Dr. Rambacher can confirm the injury is an ankle sprain, not another, potentially more serious one. After diagnosing your injury, he gets you immediately on the best treatment course for your particular sprain, using the latest medical advancements and techniques.
By monitoring your injury and treatment protocol, Dr. Rambacher ensures your ankle continues to heal as expected and can make adjustments as needed. By following his advice in your recovery, you reduce your risk of the ankle causing you further problems or needing surgery down the road.
Treating a sprained ankle
The treatment protocol Dr. Rambacher recommends for your sprained ankle depends on the severity and type of sprain. While you’re waiting for your appointment, he recommends beginning the RICE protocol on your ankle, which stands for:
Following the RICE protocol helps reduce swelling and gives your ankle time to recover and start healing.
After your appointment, Dr. Rambacher often recommends you continue with RICE care for your sprained ankle. Other treatments he prescribes include:
- Medication to reduce pain and swelling
- Wearing a brace
- Walking with crutches
- Physical therapy
Occasionally, if your sprain is severe or not responding to more conservative treatment, Dr. Rambacher recommends surgery to repair unstable ankle ligaments.
Your ankles are extremely important to your everyday mobility and health, so always ensure you take care of them correctly after an injury. Get in touch as soon as possible to schedule your consultation for support and treatment after an ankle sprain or other foot or ankle injury.