What is Rolled Ankle? Know its Treatment & Recovery Period

What Is Rolled Ankle?

Rolled Ankle is one of the most common form of injury that an individual has to deal with every now and then. An individual can roll or sprain an ankle anytime, either when involved with some kind of sporting activities or while doing normal everyday routines or when stepping on an uneven surface while walking. A Rolled Ankle or Twisted Ankle can happen to anyone, children, and adults alike and can be extremely painful. To understand the anatomy of the ankle better, the ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joints in their usual places and prevent them from any jarring or abnormal movements like twisting or turning. An individual is said to have a Rolled Ankle or Twisted Ankle when the ligaments of the ankles are stretched beyond their limits resulting in tearing of the ligaments and causing severe foot pain and limited range of motion of the ankle.

Rolled Ankle

Impact of a Rolled Ankle

An individual is said to have a Rolled Ankle when the ankle twists, turns, or rolls, beyond its normal limits. A Rolled Ankle can occur if the foot is planted on an uneven surface forcefully like in jumping or playing. This results in the ligaments being stretched beyond their limits resulting in tearing of ligaments, also known as Sprain, affecting normal range of motion of the ankle and causing severe foot and ankle pain.

Some of the forms of injury which can cause a Rolled Ankle or Ankle Sprain are if there is severe inward turning or outward turning of the ankle then it can cause the ligaments to stretch excessively. This can also occur if the foot is placed on an uneven surface in an awkward position like when crossing an uneven curb resulting in a fall. If there is excessive force applied to the ankle as a result the individual may also hear a popping sound associated with foot and ankle pain and swelling of the ankle. The amount of force which is exercised on the ankle determines the grade of sprain that the individual has. A mild sprain is classified as Grade 1 sprain and a severe sprain is classified as Grade 3 whereas moderate sprains are classified as Grade 2.

  • Grade 1: In this form of sprain, there is a little bit of stretching of the ligaments with minor damage to the fibers of the ligament.
  • Grade 2: In this form of sprain, there is partial tearing of ligament. When examining the joint and moving it in certain directions a joint laxity is observed.
  • Grade 3: In this form of sprain, there is complete tear of the ligament. There is a lot of instability of the joint of the joint is moved in certain directions.

What Are Some of The Symptoms Associated With Rolled Ankle?

If an individual suffers a Rolled Ankle, then the individual will experience severe pain in the ankle. There will be visible swelling of the ankle and the ankle will have reduced range of motion. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the severity of the injury. In case of there is tearing of the ligament then the individual will experience ankle instability. In some cases, there will be complete dislocation of the joint.

What To Do For A Rolled Ankle?

It is imperative to consult a physician as soon as an injury occurs. The treating physician will order x-rays to rule out a fracture. On palpating the injured ankle, there will be pain and tenderness. Once fracture is ruled out, the grade of the sprain will be identified by the physician based on the severity of the symptoms. It may be painful for the individual during physical examination as the physician will touch the area and also move the foot in certain directions to look for the severity of the injury which may cause pain. In cases where there is complete tear of the ligament then there will be instability of the ankle. If the physician suspects a tear of the ligament then he or she may order an MRI of the ankle to look for the severity of the tear and also to confirm the diagnosis of Rolled Ankle.

Treatment And Recovery Period For Rolled Ankle

There can be two ways of treating Rolled Ankle, one is the usual conservative approach and the other is the surgical way to treat the problem.

Conservative Treatments For Rolled Ankle And Its Recovery Period:

Usually, in cases of minor sprains, the swelling may last for a couple of days during which the individual may find it difficult to walk due to pain and may have to use crutches to ambulate. Depending upon the grade of sprain, the physician may order cast, boots, or splints for the foot for speedy recovery. Most of the cases of Rolled Ankle need just a period of rest for it to heal. The healing phase usually lasts for about 6 weeks. Once the healing process starts, then the physician may ask the individual to start gentle range of motion, so that the foot does not become stiff. Even in cases of complete ligament tearing, appropriate immobilization and rest can treat the condition.

For Grade 1 Sprains: The RICE protocol is recommended until the sprain clears up. Adequate rest is recommended if the ankle is not in use. Application of ice for 15 to 20 minutes at the injured site two to three times a day is helpful to reduce pain and swelling. Also utilizing bandages or ace-wraps to immobilize and support the injured ankle is recommended. Keep the foot elevated for about 48 hours post injury.

For Grade 2 Sprains: Similar to above the RICE protocol is followed. The ankle is allowed more time to heal. The physician may also prescribe an immobilizing device for the foot.

For Grade 3 Sprains: Since in these types of sprain, there is instability the individual may be placed in a short leg cast for a few weeks for healing to take place.

Once healing is complete, then the individual needs to undergo a thorough rehabilitation, a plan for which will be formulated by the physical therapist. Usual modalities used will be ultrasound and electrical stimulation to help with pain and swelling followed by gentle range of motion exercises. In case if such exercises are too painful then pool based exercises may be done to increase strength and endurance of the foot. Once the individual is pain-free, other more active exercises may be added with the aim of strengthening the foot and improve range of motion. The physician will then ask the individual to gradually return to normal activities.

Medications To Teat Rolled Ankle:

NSAIDs are often used for relief of pain and reducing swelling.

In case of Rolled Ankle not being treated appropriately may result in permanent instability of the ankle along with chronic pain of the ankle.

Surgical Treatment For Rolled Ankle:

Very rarely does a Rolled Ankle injury require surgical treatment. It is only done when the affected individual does not respond effectively to conservative approach and suffers from persistent instability for a prolonged period of time. The surgical options include:

Arthroscopy: This is done to look at the internal structures of the ankle and identify any loose fragments and correct those for symptom relief.

Reconstruction: This is done in case where there is complete tear of the ligament where the surgeon repairs it with sutures.

Rolled Ankle Rehabilitation:

Post surgery, the affected individual will require comprehensive rehabilitation program for rapid recovery of strength and range of motion and to return to the preinjury state. Rehabilitation program will be designed by the physical therapist and may take a few weeks to complete.

How Can Rolled Ankle Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent Rolled Ankle is to follow the below mentioned steps:

  • A formal warm up exercise need to be done before beginning any sporting activities or any strenuous activities
  • An individual needs to be careful when walking, running, or stepping on to a curb.
  • Shoe wear need to be appropriately selected so as to prevent the ankle from rolling over, especially it is advisable for females to avoid wearing high heels.
  • Take appropriate rest after prolonged standing or walking so that the ankle gets adequate rest to prevent Rolled Ankle.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 15, 2019

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