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4 Signs You've Sprained Your Ankle

Sprained ankles are common, but that doesn’t mean they’re not serious or should be ignored. A sprain is a partial or complete tear in one or more of the ligaments that support your ankle. That sounds a little direr, doesn’t it?

Michael J. Frazier, DPM, founder of The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center in Cypress, Texas, recommends getting a sprained ankle evaluated and treated as soon as possible. Poorly healed sprains put you at risk for future sprains, as well as other problems with your foot.

Not sure whether you sprained your ankle or just twisted it? Here are four signs that your painful ankle has a sprain that needs medical care: 

1. Your ankle is swollen

If you twisted or jammed your ankle, and it starts to swell later, you should see a podiatrist right away. Swelling could be a sign of a sprained ankle, a fracture in your ankle or foot bones, or both. 

When you come for a sprained ankle evaluation, Dr. Frazier X-rays your ankle to check for broken bones. He may also order a special kind of X-ray called a “stress X-ray.”  During a stress X-ray he pushes your ankle to find out if the ligaments are moving normally or not.

If you have a sprain, he might also order an MRI or an ultrasound. The MRI helps him assess the extent of ligament damage and also visualize other problems, such as bone chips. An ultrasound helps him evaluate how well your damaged ligament supports your ankle.

2. It’s black and blue

Bruising and swelling accompany both ankle fractures and ankle sprains. That’s why it’s important to get your ankle evaluated as soon as possible after you feel the twist or pain. The more bruising and swelling you have, the more severe your sprain is likely to be.

3. Your ankle hurts when you touch it

Most sprains affect the ligaments that are on the outside of your ankle.  If you touch them and feel pain, they’re probably sprained.

4. Your ankle isn’t working

If you can’t stand on your foot, or if your ankle buckles, you may have torn at least one of your ligaments completely. You also may have thrown your ankle bones out of joint.

After Dr. Frazier completes his exam and imaging studies, he lets you know your diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan. 

If you have a sprained ankle, Dr. Frazier rates it by severity:

When you have a grade 3 sprain, that means your ligament has torn in two completely. You may have even heard a popping sound when you twisted your ankle.

However, a grade 3 sprain doesn’t necessarily require surgery. In most cases, Dr. Frazier stabilizes your ankle and gives you crutches so that you can move around without putting weight on the ankle while it heals over the next few weeks.

Treating your sprain

No matter what grade of sprain you have, the first phase of treatment simply consists of resting the ankle, protecting it from further injury, and reducing swelling. Dr. Frazier may recommend a compression bandage or an ankle brace to stabilize your ankle. He might give you crutches to help you minimize pressure on the injured ligaments.

You’ll probably be able to control the pain and swelling with an over-the-counter pain killer. Dr. Frazier also recommends icing your ankle with a wrapped ice pack for 20-30 minutes, up to four times a day for the first two days.

Also during the first two days, he advises that you elevate your ankle to heart level whenever possible. You should rest it on a footstool when you’re sitting down.  

As your ankle heals, Dr. Frazier also recommends physical therapy to help strengthen the ligaments and other supporting tissues. He may give you exercises you can do at home or refer you to a physical therapist, depending on the grade of your sprain.

With proper treatment, mild ankle sprains could heal in just a few days. If you have a grade 3 sprain, you might need to wear a brace or cast for several weeks. 

Treat your sprained or injured ankle by contacting us today. Phone our office at 281-607-1863 or use our online appointment form.







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