Have you ever felt the intense burning, searing pain of a sprained ankle? Have you ever lost a couple of days while you spent time icing and elevating an injured ankle? Have you ever hobbled around for a week or more, wondering if the pain was ever going to go away and if you should see a doctor? Such is the bane of a sprain.
Sprains are the most common of all ankle injuries and a sprain does not discriminate. They can happen to professional athletes, non-athletes, backyard sports enthusiasts, children, adults, men and women. So what exactly is a sprain? Ligaments (tough, elastic-like fibrous tissues) hold the bones and joints in position, and prevent them from movement beyond the normal range of motion. When a force occurs that stretches or pulls the ligament beyond its normal elasticity, a sprain occurs. This is usually caused by a twisting, turning or rolling motion.
There are three grades of sprains and all are characterized by pain and swelling – the severity of which increases with the grade.
- Grade 1 includes slight stretching of and some damage to the fibers of the ligament.
- Grade 2 includes some tearing of the tissue indicated by abnormal looseness.
- Grade 3 includes complete tearing resulting in extreme instability. Recovery of ankle sprains occurs in three phases:
Non-surgical treatment for a grade 1 or 2 sprain consists of the R.I.C.E. method – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. A grade 2 sprain would require a visit to your doctor who may also opt for an immobilizing device and suggest a lengthier healing period. A grade 3 sprain may require a short cast or brace to immobilize the ankle. Seldom is surgery required, but may be necessary in some cases in order to repair ligaments. For all grades of sprains we have found that our MLS Laser, low level laser therapy helps return this injury to a normal state more rapidly with less swelling and pain to boot!
Recovery of ankle sprains occurs in three phases:
- Rest, protecting the injury and allowing time for swelling to subside.
- Restoring motion, strength and flexibility.
- Gradual return to normal activities that do not place excessive stress on injury, like turning or twisting. Eventually, as the affected area strengthens, return to full activity can occur.
In the case of a grade 3 sprain, recovery can take a period of weeks to months. Imagine the devastation to a professional basketball player, for example, who could lose half a season due to a sprained ankle. Thank goodness that was not the case with LaMarcus Aldridge, of the Trailblazers, when earlier this month, he landed unevenly after a jump shot and suffered a slight sprain during a game. He was benched for a couple of nights but is now back in the lineup.
If you suffer a sprain, call the Hillsboro office at (503) 648-1713, the Newberg office at (503) 538-0466 or the Beaverton office at (503) 292-9252 for an appointment. We will have you back on your feet in no time!
K.G. Gauntt, DPM