You probably don’t give too much thought to your ankles most days, but they are quite amazing. Each of your ankles is made up of five bones, and despite how we talk about it, your ankle has two joints, rather than one. Along with the bones, your ankle joints contain ligaments and tendons, cartilage, and lubrication.
All those parts work together to give you the ability to move your ankle up and down, side to side, and in a circular motion in both directions. That’s a lot of mobility in a joint that supports the weight of your body!
Dr. David Dickerson and our staff at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine have spent many hours thinking about ankles, how they’re constructed, how they work, and what can go wrong with them.
We know most people are less familiar with ankles, and that’s why we’re providing this post, which explores five symptoms of an ankle sprain.
1. It hurts
Although no one really likes it, pain serves an important purpose -- it lets us know there’s a problem.
When you sprain your ankle, you almost always have pain in the part of your ankle that’s been damaged. Your deltoid ligament is on the inside of your ankle, and when it’s damaged, that’s where you’ll feel the pain. Touching your ankle or trying to put weight on it probably hurts, too.
Most people feel sudden pain when they sprain their ankle. And, it hurts worse when you try to walk on it. The severity of the pain you feel may be worse depending on the damage to the tissues in your ankle.
2. You can’t move your ankle normally
The most common way people sprain an ankle is turning their foot too far inward, although it is possible to sustain an ankle sprain in other ways. The unnatural movement of turning your foot too far inward stretches the ligaments on the outside of your ankle too far, or even causes them to tear.
The damage to those ligaments can be so severe you can’t bend or flex your foot at all. If that’s the case, you can’t put any weight on your ankle, either, so no walking or standing.
3. Your ankle is swollen
When you sprain your ankle, you damage the ligaments that support the joint. Often, this type of injury causes swelling and bruising, sometimes almost immediately. Just as you feel pain in the damaged area of your ankle, the swelling and bruising is likely to be located where you’re hurt.
Swelling and pain are often correlated with the severity of your injury. In other words, the worse it hurts and the more it swells, the more damage there probably is.
4. Did you hear it?
Did you hear or feel a pop when you hurt your ankle? If you did, it’s very likely that you sprained or tore a ligament.
5. Chronic instability
One of the dangers of an ankle sprain is that it can cause chronic instability, which leaves you feeling wobbly, and your ankle may give out and cause another strain. This is fairly common because the overstretched or otherwise damaged ligaments can no longer provide the stability you need in your ankle.
Stretched, torn, or not-quite healed ligaments can’t support your ankle well enough. This is one reason it’s important to seek treatment if you suspect you’ve sprained your ankle.
Treating ankle sprains
Proper treatment is extremely important in lowering your risk of re-injuring your ankle in the future, and the more damage your sprain causes, the more important that treatment becomes.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms described in this post, schedule an appointment with us at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine for an evaluation. Call our nearest office, either in Shrewsbury or Toms River, New Jersey.