What are sprains and strains of the foot or ankle?
Your feet and ankles work simultaneously all day long. Their main job is to provide support and mobility to your whole body. Sprains and strains of the foot or ankle are considered soft tissue injuries. The most common reason for a sprain is when your injury pulls, stretches, or tears the ligaments that connect bone to bone.
What could be sprain causes?
Injuries are the most common cause of foot and ankle sprains. Many times, the strains occur during sports. Football players are especially vulnerable to foot or ankle sprains. Basketball players are often prone to ankle sprains.
Sometimes, tripping or stumbling on an uneven surface is the cause of foot and ankle sprains.
What are the symptoms?
Pain, swelling, bruising and/or difficulty walking on that foot or ankle are common symptoms of a sprained foot or ankle.
How can you treat a sprained ankle at home?
If you hurt your foot or ankle, it is important to always be cautious. You should follow R.I.C.E protocol to relieve your symptoms. The acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- Rest: Resting the area means you will have to do your best to stay off the injured foot/ankle until you can have it evaluated by a professional. Continuing to walk, run, or play sports with an injured foot/ankle can make the injury worse.
- Ice: Applying ice to the affected area as soon as the injury occurs will decrease inflammation. You should continue to apply ice every 15-20 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 48 hours after injury.
- Compression: Compressing the ankle/foot with an elastic bandage around the foot or ankle will relieve swelling. Remember to wrap snuggly, but not so tight as to cut circulation off to your foot/ankle.
- Elevation: Elevating the affected extremity will decrease swelling. You should elevate the extremity at a higher level than your heart. You can use some pillows to achieve this.
When should you visit a podiatrist?
Podiatrists are specialized to deal with the care and treatment of lower extremities. An injury to the ankle/foot should always be looked at by a qualified podiatrist. They can determine the extent of your injury and develop a treatment plan.
Increased pain, swelling, redness, bruising, and difficulty walking after your injury are definite signs you need to seek treatment from a podiatrist.
Diagnosis and treatment of your injury
These will include a thorough examination of your feet and ankles, as well as obtaining more information related to your health.
Your podiatrist will order tests such as an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound to determine the extent of the injury. Ultrasound and MRIs are useful for finding soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains.
The different treatments for sprains and strains
- Immobilization: Treatment options will depend on your injury. Sprains are treated with a varied period of immobilization. This time period will vary depending on the extent of the injury.
- Wear a soft cast or “boot”: You may be able to resume activity sooner than you think, or you may be required to wear a soft cast or “boot” (a.k.a. CAM Walker), and/or crutches.
- Surgery: Athletes may undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments.
- Oral anti-inflammatory medication: like ibuprofen, can be used to lessen the amount of pain you are experiencing. In some cases, your podiatrist may write a prescription for something stronger than ibuprofen.
A few tips to prevent foot/ankle sprains
- Warm up: It is important to warm up and stretch prior to intense physical activity. This can prevent sprains/strains.
- Beware of uneven surfaces: Another important tip to remember is to avoid running or walking on uneven surfaces.
- Wear the right shoes: You should also be wearing proper shoe gear, which includes the correct shoes for your particular lifestyle. Athletic shoes should be replaced yearly and running shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles.