A foot or ankle break disrupts every aspect of your life. That’s why Dominique Nickson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and foot pain expert at Next Step Orthopedics, has been fixing broken feet and ankles for the people of McKinney, Texas, and the surrounding areas for years. If you have persistent foot or ankle pain or suspect you may have a fracture, call or book an appointment online right away.

request an appointment

What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain occurs when your foot doesn’t land properly and the ligaments in the joint are stretched past their normal limits.

Ankle sprains are classified into three grades: the first grade is indicated by mild swelling and ligament stretching, grade two sprains involve moderate swelling and partial tears of the ligament, and grade three ankle sprains are defined by a full ligament tear and severe swelling and tenderness.

Ankle sprain symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Popping sounds
  • Instability

It’s important to have your sprained ankle diagnosed and treated to prevent chronic instability and reinjury.

How does an ankle sprain lead to chronic instability?

When your foot lands awkwardly and your ankle rolls, the ligament controlling your ankle stretches beyond its normal capacity. This overstretching adds wear to the ligament that causes it to elongate and can leave it with loose slack, making it easier to re-sprain.

An overworked ankle ligament creates an unstable foot that has trouble landing flat or even holding up your weight when not moving. Chronic instability can cause swelling, a wobbly feeling when your walk, and major disruptions to your daily life.   

How are ankle sprains and instability treated?

First, Dr. Nickson performs a thorough examination, feeling your ankle for the injured ligament then testing your range of motion to determine the extent of your injury. Depending on the severity of your ankle sprain, Dr. Nickson may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, an MRI, or ultrasound, to examine the damage inside the ankle.

For a majority of ankle sprains, Dr. Nickson recommends conservative treatments, including pain medication and a stabilizing brace or crutches to immobilize the injured ankle. Once the swelling is gone and you’re able to put your weight on the ankle, Dr. Nickson begins the rehab process of strengthening and balancing exercises designed to repair your overstretched ligament and keep you from a lifetime of chronic instability.

If the ligament is torn, Dr. Nickson may recommend surgery to stitch your ankle ligament back together; however, even some ligament tears can heal without surgery.

Dr. Nickson is an orthopedic surgeon with extensive experience treating ankle sprains and getting patients back on their feet. If you have an ankle sprain or chronic instability, call or book your appointment online today.