Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bones together. If any of these tissues in the ankle stretch too far or tear, the result is called a sprained ankle.
If you sustain this common injury, how can you tell if you need professional treatment?
At Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Metairie, Louisiana, our team provides fast and efficient treatment for ankle sprains. When it comes to whether or not a sprain requires medical treatment, it usually depends on the severity.
In this blog, our providers discuss the types of sprains and give guidance on when a sprain should be seen by a doctor.
What are the types of ankle sprains?
Ankle sprains often occur due to twisting or rolling the ankle unnaturally. There are three basic types of sprains, and they are as follows:
A Grade 1 sprain occurs when the ligaments stretch slightly beyond their natural range. This condition results in mild pain and swelling.
A Grade 2 sprain is more severe than a Grade 1 sprain, and the ligaments tear, but not completely. Swelling and pain with movement are standard with this injury.
Grade 3 ankle sprains are the most severe form of this injury. The ligaments tear completely, causing severe pain and trouble walking.
The signs and symptoms of each type of sprain can vary, but all three usually include pain, swelling around the ankle, and difficulty moving the joint.
Do you need professional treatment?
As shown in the grading system above, ankle sprains can vary in severity. The more severe the sprain, the more you should consider getting professional help.
Mild, moderate, and severe sprains
Mild ankle sprains usually improve within a few days to a few weeks with rest, regular icing, over-the-counter pain medications, and sometimes compression. However, if a sprain doesn't get better after a few days with home treatment, you should seek treatment from our team.
Moderate to severe sprains require treatment as soon as possible to reduce pain and swelling and to prevent complications. If a sprain doesn’t heal properly, this could lead to chronic ankle instability.
Getting a professional evaluation
The easiest way to avoid complications is to seek treatment immediately after an injury. Even minor sprains can turn into a problem without proper care.
At your appointment, we thoroughly evaluate the affected ankle to determine the extent of the injury. We may also order imaging studies, such as an MRI, to assess the amount of damage to the ligaments in the ankle.
Getting professional treatment
If the sprain is mild to moderate, we may recommend ice, medications, and physical therapy. However, if you have a severe sprain, your ankle may need to be immobilized for several weeks. In some cases, surgery may be required.
Quick treatment can help the ankle heal effectively and reduce the risk for long-term problems and pain. If you're unsure if you need treatment, stay on the safe side and have our team look at the injury.
If you’ve sprained your ankle and want treatment, or if you want to see if you’ve sprained your ankle, we can help. To learn more, call 504-541-5800 or book an appointment online with Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine today.