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Common Ankle Injuries and How To Treat Them

Posted by The Urgency Room on Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Keywords: ankle injuries common injuries

When we think about ankle injuries, we often think about them being the result of a sports injury. While it’s true that sports are often the culprit of ankle injuries, you don’t have to be LeBron James or Simone Biles to suffer an ankle injury. An ankle injury can occur from normal walking, slipping on a slippery surface such as ice and snow, or even missing a step while climbing a staircase.

Ankle injuries are painful, and are often difficult to self-diagnose as the symptoms of an minor ankle sprain, severe ankle sprain, and a fractured ankle are similar. This post will provide you with an overview of common ankle injuries, as well as some tips for accelerating recovery.

Whether you injure your ankle playing basketball or stumble around the house, visit The Urgency Room for quick and easy treatment.  

The Anatomy of an Ankle

An ankle is a large joint that is comprised of three bones. The primary function of the ankle is to enable foot movement. The ankle allows the foot to move up and down and side to side.

The three bones that make up the ankle joint are the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The tibia and fibula are long bones that make up the shin, and the talus is the top bone in the foot that connects to the lower leg. There are ligaments on the inside and outside of the ankle that attach these bones and provide stability to the ankle joint during movements.  The achilles tendon is the large tendon that connects the large calf muscles in the lower leg to the foot and allows the foot to move up and down.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments in the ankle tear or are stretched too much. Ligaments are strong and stretchy by nature, but there are limits to how far they can stretch.  How do you know if you’ve sprained your ankle? Pain is the most obvious indicator. A sprained ankle will hurt right away, and the pain will persist. Some of the other symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Painful to Walk

Depending on the location of the the ligament that is stretched or torn, there are different levels of severity when it comes to ankle sprains, broken down in grades. The more severe the injury to the ligament, the longer it will take to recover. Most ankle sprains take place on the outside of the foot, as the ligaments are more vulnerable when stretching or twisting side-to-side.

Grade 1 Ankle Sprain:

Grade 1 sprains are considered the least severe of the three grades. A grade 1 sprain will leave your ankle sore and slightly swollen, but the ligament will recover on its own. Grade 1 ankle sprains are also called ‘twisted ankles’. For treatment, ice your ankle to combat the swelling and take NSAIDS as recommended to reduce pain and swelling.

Grade 2 Ankle Sprain:

A grade 2 sprain occurs when a ligament in the ankle is partially torn. The tear, as opposed to stretching in grade 1, prolongs the pain and swelling of the injury. Significant bruising can take place during a grade 2 sprain, as the tear can cause bleeding underneath your skin. For treatment, ice, NSAIDS, and compressing the ankle are all recommended.

Grade 3 Ankle Sprain:

A grade 3 sprain occurs when a ligament is fully torn. The most severe of sprains, a grade three sprain will have a popping sound and feel when it occurs. It takes a while for the ligament to fully recover, sometimes as long as 12 weeks. Putting weight on the foot will be challenging with a grade 3 sprain. Swelling and bruising will be significant. For treatment, ice the ankle, keep it elevated, compress the ankle, and take NSAIDS as recommended. A grade 3 sprain will be difficult to distinguish from a fracture. Anytime you have a severe sprained ankle, you should seek medical treatment to make sure a fracture has not occured.

Fractured Ankle

A fractured ankle, or broken ankle, occurs when one or more of the bones in the ankle joint are broken. The severity of a fractured ankle depends on the number of bones that are broken. For the person who suffers the injury, it may be difficult to distinguish whether you have a grade 2 or 3 sprain or a fractured ankle. In fact, sometimes there will be ligament damage in addition to a fractured ankle. To discover whether or not you have fractured your ankle, you’re going to need to seek medical attention and receive a X-ray.

The symptoms of a fractured ankle will be very similar to that of a grade 3 sprain:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Pain When Placing Pressure on Foot

Treatment of an ankle fracture depends on the type of fracture and which bones are broken.  Sometimes fractures can be treated with immobilization in a splint or cast but other fractures will require a surgery to heal properly.

If the ankle is unstable and surgery is required, a surgeon will insert a metal plate and screws to hold the broken bones in place to ensure healing. Following the surgery, the ankle is protected with a splint until the swelling goes down and then with a cast. While everyone heals differently, typical healing time is between 6-12 weeks after surgery.

Treat Your Injured Ankle at the Urgency Room

If you’ve injured your ankle and want to have a doctor take a look to diagnose the severity, The Urgency Room is a faster and more enjoyable alternative to heading to the ER and waiting in a overfilled waiting room. If time is of the essence, come see us.

With convenient locations situated off of major highways running through the Twin Cities, coming to our Woodbury, Vadnais Heights or Eagan locations is an easy trip. And, you can check out live waiting room times at each location here, that way you won’t be surprised upon arrival.

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