Ankle sprains fall under ankle injuries, including fractures and tendonitis. The severity of ankle sprains is graded as follows:

  • First grade: Stretched ankle ligaments, but there is minimal swelling, and the ankle remains stable.
  • Second grade: Partially torn ligaments; the ankle is swollen and mildly unstable. 
  • Third grade: Torn ligaments; the ankle is severely swollen and unstable. The person is likely in a lot of pain. 

The R.I.C.E. method works for mild to moderate ankle injuries to improve healing time and prevent unnecessary complications. Treating a sprained ankle may include physical therapy, depending on how severe the sprain is.

Sprained Ankle Symptoms

 The symptoms of a sprained ankle are mostly the same for all grades of injuries, with a difference in intensity. Symptoms include the following: 

  • Tenderness over the ankle joint
  • Swelling around the ankle
  • Ankle weakness
  • Blue and purple bruising
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Stiffness

If the person experiences unbearable pain when touching the ankle, the ankle may be fractured and not sprained.

Causes of a Sprained Ankle

 Athletes and active people have a high risk of ankle injuries. They include dancers, martial artists, wrestlers, soccer players, runners, and basketball players. Sprained ankles typically occur when a person lands awkwardly after jumping or running over an uneven surface. 

Other causes of sprained ankles include: 

  • Falling or tripping
  • Rolling the ankle when walking up or down stairs
  • Motor vehicle accidents 
  • Prior ankle injury

sprained ankle treatment

Sprained Ankle Diagnosis

 For doctors to diagnose sprained ankles, they need to do a physical examination of the injured ankle. The exam is painful but necessary because the doctor must check for torn or stretched ligaments. 

The doctor will also test the range of motion in the ankle to establish whether there are any fractures. MRI scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds help highlight joint or cartilage damage in severe ankle injuries. 

After the physical examination, the doctor will grade the injury and provide a treatment plan. 

Treating a Sprained Ankle

 Treating a sprained ankle depends on the injury grade: 

  • Grade 1 sprains: Usually mild and treated at home using the R.I.C.E method. Mild sprains don’t require casts or braces; the injury will heal within three days. 
  • Grade 2 sprains: Moderate injuries, and while the R.I.C.E method is also effective, the ankle needs a splint to stay stable. When the sprain starts to heal, the patient should do motion exercises and physical therapy to ensure they regain full use of the ankle.
  • Grade 3 sprains: Severe injuries that involve complete ankle ligament ruptures. The ankle should be immobilized for a prescribed period when ligaments are completely torn. Grade 3 sprains often don’t heal well and require surgery after a couple of months to reconstruct the ligaments. 

Sprained Ankle Prevention

 The following tips may help in preventing sprained ankles: 

  • Warm up before exercise and cool down after.
  • Choose appropriate shoes for different activities.
  • Don’t wear shoes with heels worn on the sides.
  • Avoid uneven surfaces.
  • Use a brace on a previously injured ankle. 

PRESNow Urgent & Emergency Care

Visit PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Clinics for Sprained Ankle Treatment

Unlike most ERs or urgent care centers in the area, PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care in Albuquerque, patients are only billed for the level of services they need. The ER and urgent care are open 24 hours a day, every day. No appointment is required for in-person visits.

PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care has four convenient locations:

  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Paseo/San Pedro is located at 6400 Paseo Del Norte Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, and may be reached at 505-596-2100.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Coors/Western Trail is located at 4515 Coors Blvd. NW Albuquerque, NM 87120, and may be reached at 505-596-2200.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Isleta/Rio Bravo is located at 3436 Isleta Blvd SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105, and may be reached at 505-596-2300.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Menaul/Pennsylvania is located at 7400 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110, and may be reached at 505-596-2400.