Pain is probably the first thing you noticed when you twisted your ankle, whether it was done running down a soccer field, falling on ice or simply stepping down on your foot wrong as you were walking down a flight of stairs. The severity of the twist is the first thing you should assess. You can generally do this by trying to bear your weight on it and if that goes well you can try walking on it. Many times a twisted ankle isn’t severe and after a few moments you can carry on with your day however sometimes your ankle needs immediate medical attention.
What is a Sprained Ankle?
A twisted or sprained ankle occurs when you roll or twist your ankle in some manner and results from the stretching or tearing of the ligaments in the ankle. Most often the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are affected, though the ones on the inside can be affected as well. The severity of the sprained ankle depends on how severely stretched or torn the ligaments are.
Symptoms of a Twisted Ankle
if you have twisted or sprained your ankle the symptoms may include:
- Pain – this is the most common symptom and the severity of the pain can depend on the severity of the injury.
- Swelling – your ankle will swell immediately after you’ve twisted it and it may even bruise. In a mild sprain, the swelling will go down in a few days.
- Instability – after spraining your ankle, it may feel wobbly or unstable when you try to walk on it. As with the other symptoms, the severity of the problem will depend on how severe the injury or the severity of the tear to the ligaments and tendons of your ankle.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention?
Most sprains can be treated at home with an ice pack and by elevating the foot, but some severe twisted ankles need to be seen by a doctor, perhaps even an orthopedic doctor. The signs you need to go immediately to the ER are:
- If your ankle or leg is bent at an unusual angle.
- You have severe pain.
- The color of your foot changes or it feels cold.
- You have numbness or tingling in your foot after the injury.
- You cannot move your ankle.
While you may not need immediate treatment for your ankle injury, if you have any of the following issues with your injury, you should call your doctor and make an appointment. You don’t have any improvement in your ankle after a week has gone. If the ankle is still swollen and bruised after two weeks or if you heard a popping sound when the sprain occurred. This could indicate torn ligaments and that could require surgery. You cannot bear weight on your foot. If your ankle feels unstable when you put weight on your foot. If there is redness, swelling or pain in the leg and groin as this could be the sign of a blood clot. While you are recovering from your twisted ankle, do a few exercises at home to help keep it from becoming too stiff and affecting its range of motion. You can stretch your foot while sitting down by straightening your leg and pointing your toes out, then up but do so carefully. You should also move your foot around in a circular motion, rotating it slowly and gently. Don’t do these too fast or if it is painful, stop flexing your foot and rotating your ankle immediately. You can gradually build up to standing on your foot as the swelling abates.