One of the most common injuries seen in my office are lateral ankle sprains. What is an ankle sprain? Sprains are injuries of ligaments which are bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to support and strengthen joints. When an injury occurs where a joint is forced to go beyond its normal range of motion, the ligaments are often injured. Sprain injuries are categorized by grades 1-3 (grade 1 being the least severe and grade 3 being the most severe) with grade 1 being a strain (damaged but not torn) , grade 2 a partial tear and grade 3 a complete tear or rupture of the ligament. These can be serious injuries. If they are not immediately treated properly, the ligaments can heal in a stretched position leaving the joint unstable and more prone to future injury. If you suffer this injury, you should seek immediate medical treatment which usually involves x-rays, immobilization of the joint, anti-inflammatory medications and crutches for more severe sprains. If you are unable to get immediate attention, apply ice to the injured area for 20 minute intervals, apply compression to prevent swelling and remain off the foot until x-rays can determine the full extent of the injury.
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