Ankle Instability and Sprain Care
Our team of experienced orthopedic physicians at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute are able to provide you with a wide range of treatment options for managing and overcoming ankle instability. We tailor treatment to your unique situation, so we take time to speak with you about your specific injury and medical history. Once we have determined the cause of your ankle instability, we work with you to come up with the best physical therapy, exercise therapy, medication, or surgical plan for your condition. Our primary goal is to get you back to your regular activities and to prevent future injuries long-term.
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle is moved in an unnatural way, causing the ligaments that support the ankle to stretch beyond their natural capacity. An ankle sprain is a common injury, especially among athletes, and can sometimes heal on its own when the sprain is mild. Cases where the sprain is more severe may require surgery by an orthopedic specialist.
What is ankle instability?
When a sprained ankle does not fully or properly heal, it can cause ongoing instability and other long-term problems including arthritis. In these cases, the ankle is more likely to become injured again. You may have trouble performing sports, standing for long periods of time, or balancing on the affected ankle.
What causes a sprained ankle?
A sprained ankle can occur any time the foot, leg, or ankle is moved in a way that is unnatural, which strains the ligaments that support the area. If you suffer from chronic ankle instability, you may be more prone to ankle sprains. There are multiple types of ankle sprains, including inversion sprains and eversion sprains:
- Inversion ankle sprains – These kinds of sprains occur when the ankle is rolled outward and the foot turns under the body. This is the most common type of ankle sprain and causes injury to the ligaments found in the outer portion of the ankle.
- Eversion ankle sprains – Alternatively, this type of sprain is less common and occurs when the ankle rolls inward and the foot turns outward, away from the body. This damages the ligaments found on the inside of the ankle.
Sprains can be caused by:
- A fall that causes unnatural ankle twisting
- Jumping and landing on the foot or ankle incorrectly
- Walking, running, or exercising on an uneven surface
What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?
Below are common symptoms of a sprained ankle:
- Ankle swelling
- Bruising, discoloration, or swelling around the ankle
- Pain when putting pressure or standing on the involved leg
- Inability to move the ankle joint
- “Pop” or “crunch” sound at the time of injury
Additionally, the following are indications that you may be suffering from ankle instability, which should be evaluated by one of our orthopedic specialists and treated when needed:
- Repeated ankle sprains
- Feeling that your ankle “gives out” when walking or running
- Inability to move the ankle joint with full range of motion
- Ankle pain that persists long after a sprain or ankle injury
How is a sprained ankle diagnosed?
You should speak with a foot and ankle specialist at the first signs of an ankle sprain. MedStar Orthopaedic Institute is home to experts in a wide range of ankle conditions who have years of experience evaluating, diagnosing, and treating ankle sprains. Your ankle exam will likely include the following:
- Medical history evaluation – Your physician will discuss your medical history with you and any relevant prior ankle problems.
- Physical exam – A doctor will evaluate the affected area and may ask you questions about where you are feeling pain or discomfort.
- Imaging tests – Your orthopedist will also likely conduct imaging studies to rule out a fracture and accurately diagnose your ankle condition.
What are the options for sprained ankle treatment?
If you are experiencing an ankle sprain that is mild and is not a recurring injury, you may use one or more of the following conservative treatment options at home to help the ankle sprain heal on its own:
- Ice to decrease swelling and pain
- Avoiding activities that cause pain or pressure on the ankle
- Ankle bandage to compress the ankle and add support
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
- Elevating the ankle to reduce swelling (especially while sleeping)
When conservative options fail, or when an ankle sprain is recurring or more severe, MedStar Orthopaedic Institute offers diagnostic testing, as well as a wide variety of treatments options. Depending on the severity of your ankle condition and the complexity of the injury, our foot and ankle specialists may recommend any of the following minimally invasive surgical options:
- Foot and ankle arthroscopy
- Foot and ankle fracture surgery
- Foot and ankle tendon repair and reconstruction
If you believe you may be suffering from an ankle sprain or ankle instability, call 202-295-0511 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. Our doctors have years of experience diagnosing and treating foot and ankle conditions and are pleased to offer comprehensive care in the Washington, D.C. area.