How to Tell if You’ve Sprained Your Ankle

From walking on uneven surfaces to wearing improper shoes to participating in competitive athletics, there are many ways to twist and sprain your ankle, making it one of the most common injuries in the United States. It is important to understand if you have sprained your ankle and the severity of the injury, as up to 75% of initial ankle sprains lead to further sprains and chronic symptoms. 

Severity of an Ankle Sprain

The severity of an ankle sprain is classified into three distinct grades:
  1. A grade 1 ankle sprain is the least severe sprain, where the ankle’s lateral ligaments have been stretched without tear. 
  2. An ankle sprain is classified as grade 2 when there has been partial tearing of one or more of the ligaments. 
  3. The most severe ankle sprain is grade 3, which is when all of the ankle ligaments are completely disrupted and fully torn. 

Signs that You Have Sprained Your Ankle

You may have sprained your ankle if you have one or more of the following symptoms: 
  • Pain
  • Inability to put weight on the affected ankle
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Popping sound at the time of injury
  • Tenderness

Ways to Treat a Sprained Ankle 

If you have a mild ankle sprain, there are a number of at-home treatments that can alleviate discomfort you may be experiencing, such as: 
  • Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage pain
  • Elevating the affected ankle with pillows to reduce swelling
  • Getting lots of rest and not putting any weight on the ankle
  • Using bandages, such as an ACE bandage, to lightly wrap the ankle to manage swelling
  • Applying ice for 20–30 minute intervals
For serious ankle sprains, it is necessary to see your doctor so that they can determine the grade of the sprain, or if it is a more severe injury. Surgery is not common for ankle sprains; however, doctors typically prescribe some form of functional support. If your physician determines that it is not an ankle sprain and is a more serious injury, surgical treatment may be recommended.

In addition to functional support, physicians will also prescribe an exercise-based rehabilitation treatment plan, which significantly reduces the risk of reinjury following an acute ankle sprain. 

Contact the Steadman Clinic

If you are concerned that you may have recently sprained your ankle, or you are experiencing chronic pain based on a past injury, contact the Steadman Clinic today, where our foot and ankle orthopaedic specialists will create your personalized treatment plan. Call (970) 476-1100 today to make your appointment.