An ankle sprain is considered as a common injury and often confused with strains. A strain occurs if a ligament in the ankle extends excessively, but this injury can heal at a fast rate. As for an ankle sprain, it is considered serious since it involves the stretching and tearing of the ligaments and can even affect the tendons of the ankle. The most common type of sprain is an inversion in which the ankle rolls over from the outside and inwards.
Both sprains and strains are common injuries that can occur during daily activities or if the individual is engage in contact sports such as football, soccer or basketball.
Is it a sprain or strain?
Initially, you have to determine first if the injury is a sprain or strain. An ankle sprain is classified in three types that are based on the level of severity.
- The type one is minor and characterized by mild pain and minimal swelling, but the ankle can still bear weight and moved with minor pain. Always bear in mind that if the pain goes away in a day or two, it is a strain. If the pain lasts longer and accompanied by stiffness, it is considered as a mild sprain.
- If the individual cannot move the affected joint or put weight without causing moderate to severe pain, it is categorized as a type two sprain.
- If there is complete rupture of the ligament or the joint cannot be moved, it is considered as a type three or severe sprain. The symptoms include severe pain followed by less or no pain at all, severe swelling and inability to put weight in the foot.
When to consult a doctor?
It is important to consult a doctor if the ankle sprain is categorized as a type two or type three sprains. With a type two sprain, the doctor would request an X-ray to determine for possible fractures. It must be immobilized and treatment with the RICE method. If you want to learn the RICE method, click here.
By using the RICE method, the affected ankle must be given enough time to rest and avoid putting any weight. The application of ice over the affected area can help minimize the pain and swelling. Do not forget to compress and elevate the affected ankle higher than the level of the heart.
Take the individual to the emergency department at the nearest hospital if you suspect a type three ankle sprain. With this type of sprain, an X-ray is required to determine its severity as well as for fractures. A severe sprain must be put under a cast for at least two weeks aside from the RICE method and administration of anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, surgery might be required in order to repair the damaged ligaments and tendons.