Article by Dr. Misako McLeod, DPM
Most of us have experienced a sprained ankle. Sometimes we roll our ankle and experience nothing more than slight pain which goes away, and sometimes we might roll our ankle so severely that we develop bruising, swelling, and may partially tear or rupture the ankle ligaments.
Most ankle sprains do not require surgery and are treated with non-surgical methods such as immobilization in a walking boot or cast, or simply an ankle brace. Control of swelling and inflammation is crucial for pain control.
When Dr. McLeod evaluates an ankle sprain, the following will occur:
Physical exam which consists of:
For people who work in positions that require walking or lifting, it may be advised to not work for a few weeks. FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) paperwork can be completed or a work restriction letter may be provided.
After the ankle starts to heal, physical therapy is often started to rehabilitate the ankle and restore its strength, mobility, and function. Physical therapy is important to prevent stiffness and to maximally restore function and flexibility of the ankle.
Rarely, is surgery needed after an ankle sprain; however, if a patient still has the feeling of a wobbly or weak ankle or frequent locking or giving way of the ankle, an MRI will be performed to evaluate the integrity of the ankle joint and to check the degree of tearing of the ankle ligaments and for ankle instability. Sometimes, surgery made be necessary to stabilize the ankle (ankle stabilization procedure) and this can range from a surgical tightening of the ligaments, complete replacement of the ankle ligaments with a cadaver graft, or arthroscopic surgery.
Furthermore, once you are walking normally, Dr. McLeod will evaluate your biomechanics and structural alignment to evaluate for abnormalities that may predispose you to ankle sprains. Sometimes a custom built orthotic can help to realign your foot to leg and help prevent future ankle sprains as well as home strengthening exercises.