Ottawa Foot Clinic Specializes In Ankle Sprain Treatment
Sprains: Twists, Turns and Ligament Damage
Your feet are composed of a complex network of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that work together to enable you to stand and move from place to place. When one of these is damaged, your mobility can be limited because of pain, stiffness, and swelling. An injury such as an ankle sprain is a common example of what can go wrong.
How You Sustain a Foot Sprain
There are dozens of ways to injure your feet and ankles. You could stumble over a tree root on your favorite hike, land irregularly from a jump shot in basketball, or twist your foot sideways in your stilettos and end up with a sprained ankle. In football, turf toe involves ligament damage in the joint at the base of your big toe from being bent backwards too far. More rarely, you could damage your midfoot while snowboarding or riding horse, or in ballet while dancing en pointe.
Ligaments Stretching Too Far
Damage to ligaments is the primary definition of this injury, as opposed to a fracture (break in the bone) or a strain (muscle or tendon damage). A ligament is a tissue band that connects two or more of your bones together to hold them in the right position. It normally flexes and contracts during your movements to allow the joints to function. When something happens that pulls the ligaments beyond their normal range of motion, they can become weakened, torn or ruptured.
How to Recognize a Sprain
No matter what caused the injury, your will likely experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain. Whether it is a mild Grade 1 or a serious Grade 3, you will experience some discomfort. This is worse when you try to put weight on your foot.
- Swelling. As your body rushes healing fluids to the area, they will collect around the injury and cause the tissues to expand.
- Bruising. Sometimes tiny blood vessels under the skin are damaged and bleed. This blood pools under the skin and appears as dark red, blue or purple splotches.
- Restricted Motion. You will likely not be able to move without some pain in the affected area, and your range of motion in the affected joint may be restricted. If the pain is severe, you wont be able to stand on the foot, much less walk.
How to Treat Your Ankle Sprain
We recommend immediately starting RICE therapy for this injury. It is a 4-step process for reducing pain, swelling and inflammation: Rest the foot to relieve pressure on the ligaments. Ice it with a cloth-covered ice pack to numb the pain and reduce swelling. Compress the joint by wrapping snugly (not too tight) with an elastic bandage to keep fluid from pooling there. Elevate your affected foot slightly above your heart as much as possible for the first few days.
If you follow this regimen and keep weight off your foot, you should see marked improvement after a couple of days. If not, you need to schedule an appointment with us to see what else may be going on. Sometimes more severe damage may require the use of an air boot or crutches to immobilize the joint and eliminate weight-bearing. We can also use laser therapy to reduce your pain and speed up the healing process. More rarely, you might have a fracture or bone chip that needs treatment, or the ligament may be ruptured and need surgical repair.
Repeated Sprains? Consult the Ottawa Foot Expert
If this happens to you frequently, you need to come in for an evaluation to avoid degeneration of the joint. We can often correct a biomechanical foot imbalance with custom orthotics to prevent future problems. We can also show you exercises and stretches that may help improve the condition of your soft tissues and keep this injury at bay.
If you have injured your foot or ankle, give Ottawa Foot Clinic a call at (613) 595-9700 or request a visit online. We want to keep your feet and ankles strong and healthy so you can do the activities you enjoy.