Tips on Ankle Sprains From Orthopedic Doctors

There are a few kinds of sports injuries that tend to be somewhat common, especially in certain sports or activities, and ankle sprains are a top example. Some ankle sprains will be relatively minor and require very basic treatment, while others could be severe enough to require surgery or other more in-depth forms of treatment – and knowing a bit more about ankle sprains in general is helpful if you plan any sport that puts you at higher risk of sustaining one.

At The Orthopaedic Center, we’re here to offer a wide range of orthopedic doctor services for patients around Tulsa, including comprehensive sports medicine solutions that range from basic care of minor injuries to possible joint replacement or other orthopedic surgeries. Ankle sprains are a common injury we help patients manage and recover from – here are some basics on the degrees of ankle sprain, common basic treatment methods, and some of the factors that will play a role in expected recovery time if you’ve recently sprained an ankle.


Ankle Sprain Basics and Severity Levels

In the most basic terms, an ankle sprain refers to any injury to the ligaments – bands of tissue that connect two bones together at a joint – in your ankle. These can happen due to any number of activities, but are most common in sports where you’re jumping, landing, or changing direction quickly.

There are three degrees of severity for ankle sprains:

  • Grade 1: A minor stretching or tearing of a ligament. Some mild pain or swelling may result, but most people can still walk and bear weight.
  • Grade 2: A partial tear of a ligament, which will likely lead to bruising, moderate pain and swelling, and difficulty walking. People with this injury may need help with certain movements, and will typically have a limited range of motion. 
  • Grade 3: Finally, a complete tear of a ligament will be referred to as a third-degree sprain, and this is generally the most severe type. This could cause significant pain, swelling, bruising and significant instability in the joint – it can even lead to some sudden giving out of the joint or an inability to bear weight on it. While not all grade 3 ankle sprains require surgery, this is the level at which surgery does become a possibility for especially severe tears. 

Basic Treatment Methods

In most cases following an ankle sprain, the “RICE” method will be recommended for basic at-home care:

  • Rest: Avoid putting weight on the affected ankle as much as possible, and limit activities that put any kind of strain on it.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack or compress to the area for short intervals several times a day – this can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compression: Consider using a compression bandage or wrap to help stabilize the ankle and prevent further damage.
  • Elevation: Keep the affected ankle above heart level while resting, if possible. This will reduce swelling by aiding in drainage.

After several days of RICE treatment, you may be advised to start movements like range-of-motion exercises or light weight-bearing activities. In some cases, a doctor might recommend using crutches or wearing a brace during the healing process, especially for moderate to severe sprains.

Factors Affecting Recovery Time

In general, recovery time will vary depending on the severity of your ankle sprain and how well you follow treatment recommendations. For minor sprains, a period of days or weeks may be sufficient, while more severe cases could require several months of rest and rehabilitation. Other factors that may influence recovery time include:

  • Age: Younger people tend to have faster recovery times than older patients.
  • Overall health: Patients in good physical condition will typically recover more quickly than those who are not.
  • Type of sport or activity: Some activities, particularly high-impact sports like basketball or football, put more strain on the ankle and can prolong healing time.
  • History of previous ankle injuries: If you have previously sprained your ankle, it may take longer to fully recover from a new sprain.

If you believe you’ve sprained your ankle, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention – even if the injury seems minor. At The Orthopaedic Center, we can evaluate the severity of your injury and help determine the best course of treatment.

Ways of Speeding Recovery Time

While ankle sprain recovery should not be rushed beyond what is healthy, there are a few things that can help speed up the process and get you back to your regular activities more quickly. These include:

  • Following the RICE method: As mentioned above, properly implementing rest, ice, compression, and elevation in the days following a sprain can promote healing.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can develop an individualized recovery plan designed to restore strength and range of motion in the ankle.
  • Getting enough sleep: Quality rest is crucial for giving your body time to heal and repair itself.
  • Eat a nutritious diet: Eating nutrient-dense foods can provide the vitamins and minerals necessary for tissue repair and contribute to overall health during recovery.
  • Proper heat: When swelling has abated, applying heat to the affected area can help promote blood flow and relieve stiffness.
  • Staying hydrated: Drinking enough water is important for keeping the body functioning properly during recovery. 

Ankle sprains are a common injury, but with proper treatment and care, recovery time can be significantly reduced. If you believe you’ve sustained an ankle sprain or any other sports injury, don’t hesitate to contact our team at The Orthopaedic Center – we assist patients with these and other orthopedic needs around Tulsa, and we’ll be happy to assist you!

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