Feet and ankles perform essential functions for us and are quite intricately-structured. Your feet contain over one-fourth of all the bones in your body, as well as numerous muscles and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) that enable movement and hold the biomechanics of your foot together. When all of these parts are working as intended, it is easy to take your lower limbs for granted. But when you sustain an injury, like a sprain, your foot will quickly attract your attention.
At Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida, we provide treatment for an array of lower limb issues. Sprains are rather common injuries. The good news is that sprain management can often be handled right in one of our offices using a variety of treatment methods.
What is a Sprain?
Sprains are injuries that can happen to the connective tissues found in the body. You have both tendons and ligaments that help connect tissues in the musculoskeletal system. The key distinction between the two is that tendons connect muscle to bone, while ligaments connect bone to another bone.
There is sometimes confusion between sprains, strains, and even fractures. Sprains and strains sound similar, but a strain is a muscle injury while a sprain is ligament damage. Fractures are well known as being broken bones, but we are briefly listing them since fractures and sprains can have overlapping symptoms and are often caused by the same kinds of incidents.
The most common symptoms of sprains are: pain, bruising, swelling, and difficulty placing weight on the affected area. These are rather similar to the symptoms caused by a fracture. However, the most notable difference between a sprain and a fracture is that the pain from a broken bone is often more severe and it is considerably more difficult to place weight on a fracture than a sprain.
Sprains occur when ligaments are extended beyond their intended range of motion. When this happens, the tissue becomes torn or excessively stretched, resulting in inflammation and the previously mentioned symptoms.
Types of Sprains in the Lower Limbs
There are many ligaments in the feet and ankles, so there are various types of sprains you might experience. These include:
- Ankle Sprains – This is one of the most common of all the potential foot and ankle injuries. They happen when the ankle rolls or is twisted underneath the leg and pressure is applied. Sprained ankles frequently occur during athletic participation, but can also transpire during daily activities (like walking up or down a flight of stairs or misjudging a curb).
- Lisfranc Injuries – The Lisfranc joint complex is found in the middle of your foot and consists of several bones held in place by a series of ligaments. This type of sprain can happen when the foot twists in an abnormal fashion. It is important to have a midfoot injury properly diagnosed by one of our doctors, since the symptoms of a Lisfranc fracture, dislocation, and sprain are all quite similar.
- Turf Toe – When a sprain happens in the joint at the base of the big toe, it is known as turf toe. The condition may be closely associated with sports like baseball and football, but dancers are also at high risk, since they often place tremendous pressure on the front of the foot.
Your treatment will depend on the specific sprain you sustain and its severity. Once we are able to perform a thorough examination of the injury, we may use a treatment plan centered on RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), medication, immobilization (use of a cast or boot), orthotics, and physical therapy.
Surgery is rarely needed for sprains, but it might be recommended if the condition warrants it. In these cases, we may need to repair a damaged ligament in order to restore normal joint function.
For more information on the various sprains, and other injuries of your feet or ankles, contact Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida by calling 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (when calling from Lake County) and our staff will be happy to assist. You can make an appointment with any of our five Florida offices (Tavares, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, Kissimmee, and Orlando), or you can request your appointment online for any of our locations.