Ankle Pain: Sprain or Strain?

Sprains and strains in the ankle are different injuries requiring different methods of care. Knowing the difference between these injuries is important. 

An ankle sprain involves a stretching or tearing of the ligaments connecting the bones in the foot, ankle, and lower leg. Ankle sprains are a very common injury among athletes and active individuals. These sprains can sometimes be prevented by performing targeted exercises to help strengthen the muscles surrounding your ankles, providing protection for those ligaments.

Alternatively, an ankle strain occurs due to overstretching of the muscles surrounding the ankle joint. Symptoms of an ankle strain include pain and swelling. To help prevent ankle strains from occurring, conducting stretching exercises before participating in sports or other activities is always a good idea. Another preventative measure is to avoid overdoing it, as many muscle strains occur when you are fatigued and worn down.

Treatments for Ankle Sprains and Ankle Strains

Ankle sprains are most often treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (also known as R.I.C.E.). Sometimes, a severe sprain in the ankle may require that the patient wear a walking boot for ankle support. 

An ankle strain can generally be treated at home. Resting for several days will help to limit pain and prevent further damage. You can also alternate between icing and heating the ankle to loosen up the muscle. Other treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications, which will reduce pain as well as swelling. 

If you need care for sprains, strains, or other common foot and ankle needs, schedule an appointment with one of our experts at Southern California Orthopedic Institute by calling (818) 901-6600 or by requesting an appointment online