Ankle sprains are very common injuries. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position and protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements-especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot. Ligament are elastic structures and usually stretch within their limits, and then go back to their normal positions. When a ligament is forced to stretch beyond its normal range, a sprain occurs. A severe sprain causes actual tearing of the ligaments and the ankle may become unstable after the initial injury phase passes. If this occurs, it is possible that the injury may also cause damage to the ankle joint surface itself.

Ankle sprains are classified as Grade 1, 2 and 3, corresponding to a Mild, Moderate and Severe sprain, based on the amount of energy imparted during the injury, and the severity of ligament injury.

The amount of pain depends on the amount of stretching and tearing of the ligament. Pain, swelling, bruising and inability to bear weight are common. Instability occurs when there has been complete tearing of the ligament or a complete dislocation of the ankle joint.
The diagnosis of ankle sprain is typically made by a combination of the patient’s history, and the findings on physical examination. An x-ray is often necessary in more severe cases to rule out bony injury and assess the joint’s alignment and congruity. Sometimes an MRI is necessary

when there is concern about multiple ligament tears.

Most ankle sprains need only a period of protection to heal, a process which can takes about four to six weeks. The mainstay of treatment is immobilization, weight bearing restriction and rest, elevation, icing and anti-inflammatory medication. Often a cast-boot or air splint is needed to protect the joint. Physical therapy is important in the later stages, to strengthen the ankle supporting muscles.

Surgical treatment for ankle sprains is rare, but may be needed for injuries that fail to respond to non-operative treatment, and for persistent instability after months of rehabilitation and non-surgical treatment. A combination of ankle arthroscopy and reconstructive surgery is usually required to identify and address loose fragments or ligament entrapment in the joint, and repair torn ligaments and stabilize the joint.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr. Aboka performs minimally invasive Ankle Arthroscopy and cutting-edge reconstructive ankle surgery for persistent pain and chronic instability related to ankle sprains. This procedure is outpatient/same-day surgery, and leads to less pain and scarring and quicker recovery and return to pain-free function.