20 Mar The Basics of Ankle Sprains and Strains
The ankle joint is an important joint that helps with the basic function of walking and running. Ankle injuries can happen to anyone regardless of age and activity level. Ankle injuries can be classified based on the tissue that is damaged or injured. A sprain is a term that is used when there is damage to the ligaments while a strain is damage involving muscles and tendons. Ankle sprains and strains can happen to anyone and the symptoms of it can be similar, involving pain, swelling and instability.
Risk factors for ankle sprains and strains include:
- Change in activity levels – This occurs when patients increase the amount of activity when the body is not used to it. It is also recommended that warm-ups are done before the start of activity to decrease the sudden stretching of muscles and ligaments that may lead to injury.
- Inadequate rest – The human body can become tired during strenuous and vigorous activities. Without rest, individuals have a higher risk of ankle sprains and strains especially when nearing the end of a race.
- Excess weight – Studies have shown that ankle sprains and strains are more likely to occur in those who are overweight or obese as excess weight increases the impact on joints when walking, running and jumping leading to possible overstretching or tearing of structures.
- Footwear – Those who have poor footwear or those that are not designed specifically for activity have a higher risk of ankle injuries.
- History of ankle injuries – These individuals have a higher risk of injury as the ankle is already weakened from previous injury.
Although signs and symptoms for both ankle sprains and strains can be alike, there are still some important factors. Both ankle sprains and strains present with pain, swelling, and possible bruising and instability. Ankle sprains usually happen after a single episode of trauma while an ankle strain can be both acute or chronic; acute strain – from slipping, falling, running, or jumping while chronic strain – is due to overuse and usually occurs in individuals who are long distance runners or those very active in sports. In ankle sprains, symptoms involve:
- Pain is localized at the area of the ankle, sudden, sharp and aggravated by movement or increasing weight. Pain is relieved by rest and elevation.
- Swelling can also be present and location of swelling is dependent on what structures are damage and where it is located.
- Bruising can also occur – it may be bluish, reddish or any other skin discoloration over the ankle region.
- Restricted movement – patients are not able to move their ankle normally. Walking and weight-bearing is also limited.
- Popping sound – patients may have heard or felt a popping sensation when the injury occurred.
The diagnosis can be made with the aid of patient history and examination. Other tests may include imaging tests such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to help rule out other injuries and confirm the diagnosis. Treatment includes rest, ice and oral painkillers. More severe injuries may require a cast / brace and rehabilitation.
For those who have ankle sprains on a regular or recurrent basis, surgery may become necessary. This may include a stabilization procedure by the Arizona foot and ankle specialists at Oasis. The Phoenix podiatrists are experts at treating acute or chronic ankle sprains, with most insurance being accepted. Call today for the top ankle treatment in the Phoenix metro area!
- Bruene JR. All about ankle sprains and strains. Sports-health. 2014. https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/ankle-and-foot-injuries/all-about-ankle-sprains-and-strains. Accessed 2/27/2017.
- Ankle Injuries. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ankle-injuries-causes-and-treatments#1. Accessed 2/27/2017.