Every day, more than 25,000 Americans experience a sprained ankle. When left untreated, a sprained ankle can lead to more serious problems, including ankle instability or arthritis. At Universal Footcare in Chelsea, Manhattan, board-certified podiatrist Neha Pathak, DPM, regularly works with young patients who have suffered sprained ankles due to sports-related injuries. To schedule an appointment at the New York City-based practice, call the office or book online today.
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that surround your ankle joint stretch or become overextended. This can happen during exercise, while playing sports, or from stepping down in an awkward way.
Ligaments help stabilize and support your joints. When they’re forced beyond their normal range of motion, it results in swelling, pain, and general discomfort.
Minor sprained ankles usually respond to conservative, at-home treatments. More serious ankle sprains often require professional intervention.
The symptoms of a sprained ankle depend on the ligaments affected and the severity of the injury. Telltale signs include:
At the time of your injury, you might also hear a popping or snapping sound.
Anyone can experience a sprained ankle, but this type of injury is especially common in young adults who are physically active or play sports. This is particularly true if you play football, soccer, or tennis, as they require jumping, running, and frequent changes in direction.
Other factors that increase your risk of a sprained ankle include training on uneven surfaces, having a history of previous ankle injuries, and wearing improper footwear. For example, high heels can make your ankles more vulnerable to injury.
To diagnose a sprained ankle, Dr. Pathak physically examines your foot, heel, and affected ankle. During this time, she gently presses on your ankle to check for points of tenderness. Next, she carefully moves your foot to test its range of motion.
If you have a severe sprain, Dr. Pathak might also order X-rays or an MRI to rule out fractures and to get a closer look at the tendons, muscles, and ligaments that surround your ankle.
At Universal Footcare, Dr. Pathak usually treats sprained ankles using conservative, minimally invasive treatments. If you have a mild sprain, at-home care like rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE protocol) may be enough to provide relief.
More serious ankle sprains might need physical therapy, custom orthotics, stretching exercises, or over-the-counter pain medications. Dr. Pathak sells custom orthotics in the office. You might also benefit from regenerative medicine treatments like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to prevent arthritis in the future.
If your sprained ankle causes ankle instability or it negatively affects your mobility, surgical intervention may be necessary. Depending on the severity of your sprain, Dr. Pathak might recommend surgery to repair a ligament that won’t heal, or she might recommend reconstructing the ligament altogether.
If you’re suffering from a sprained ankle, schedule an appointment at Universal Footcare. Call the office or book online today.