A sprained ankle is a very common injury in athletes, non-athletes and people of all ages. Approximately 25,000 people experience this injury each day. Ankle sprains are usually caused by an injury that places stress on a joint or ruptures the supporting ligaments. A ligament is an elastic structure that connects bones to other bones.
A ruptured ligament indicates a severe sprain. The ligaments in the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position, providing stabilization and support. Rupturing occurs when the ligaments tear completely or separate from the bone, impairing proper joint function.
Causes of ankle sprains
- Sprains are common injuries caused by sports and physical fitness activities. These activities include: walking, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other jumping sports. Contact sports such as football, hockey and boxing put athletes at risk for ankle injury.
- Falls, twists, or rolls of the foot that stretch beyond its normal motions are a result of ankle sprains.
- Uneven surfaces or stepping down at an angle can cause sprains.
Treatment for ankle sprains
When treating a severe sprain with a ruptured ligament, surgery or immobilization may be needed. Most ankle sprains need a period of protection to heal that usually takes four to six weeks. A cast or a cast brace protects and supports the ankle during the recovery period. Rehabilitation is used to help decrease pain and swelling and ultimately prevents chronic ankle problems.
A sports medicine specialist should evaluate the injury and recommend a treatment plan. Meanwhile, using the RICE method is a simple and often the best treatment for injuries.
Surgical treatments are rare in ankle sprains, but surgery may be needed in the event the injury fails to respond to nonsurgical treatment. Possible surgical options include:
- Arthroscopy is a procedure done on the joint to see how extensive the damage is. Surgeons look for loose fragments of bone or cartilage or if a ligament is in caught in the joint.
- Ligament reconstruction repairs the torn ligament with stitches or sutures.
How to prevent ankle sprains
Tips to prevent ankle sprains include:
- Stretching and warming-up before physical activity
- Wearing shoes that fit properly
- Paying attention to walking, running or working surfaces
The highly-trained physicians and surgeons at the Emory Sports Medicine Center treat a wide variety of sports medicine conditions and athletic injuries, including sprains and strains from the foot and ankle to hand and elbow.
About Dr. Olufade
Dr. Olufade is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.
Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.
Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.