Sprained Foot – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Sprained Foot is a common type of injury that affects millions of people around the world. Read on and know all about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this discomforting condition.

What is Sprained Foot?

This is a very discomforting condition that involves a rupture of the ligaments or the firm fibrous tissue bands that attach the bones inside a joint.

Types of Sprained Foot

Sprained Foot has been categorized into several grades depending upon the intensity of the injury. The Sprained Foot types are

Grade I

This is a mild sprain that leads to slight rupture or overstretching of the ligaments with no instability in the joints. There is minimal inflammation and tenderness. The injured foot can support weight and even tolerate full-range strengthening or stretching exercises.

Grade II

This is a moderate sprain that results in partial rupture of the ligament and is marked by discomforting symptoms like mild pain, bruising and inflammation. There is slightly greater inflammation and tenderness. There may be some amount of instability and reduced range of motion. The affected foot can support physical therapy with strengthening and stretching exercises.

Grade III

This is a severe pain that leads to a total tearing of a ligament. This usually results in severe inflammation, pain and bruising. The injured foot suffers from severe tenderness and swelling. There may be complete immobilization. Physical Therapy, as used in treating Grade II sprains, may be used for longer periods in curing the condition. Surgical reconstruction may be required for treating a Grade III sprain.

Symptoms of Sprained Foot

Some of the main Sprained Foot symptoms are

Pain

The pain in the foot may range from mild to severe and the intensity usually depends on the amount of stretching and rupture of the ligament. Pain is one of the main symptoms of a sprained foot.

Inflammation

In case of a mild mid-foot sprain, the middle area of the foot may get tender and swollen. There may be some amount of bruising in a localized region leading to bluish or blacking discoloration over the skin surface.

Inability to support weight

If there is a more severe type of sprain, the joint of the injured foot may not be able to support heavy weights. The person may even be unable to support his or her own body weight because of this. Foot sprain symptoms may involve a case of instability if there is total joint dislocation or complete rupture of the ligament.

Sprained Foot Causes

This condition arises when the foot severely twists inwards or outwards in relation to the ankle. This twisting leads to stretching of the ligaments beyond their normal limit. An overstretching may result in a tear of the ligament. When the foot is placed in an uneven manner on the ground, it may lead to a loss of balance.

An individual with an affected foot may be unable to stand on it. Application of excessive pressure over the soft tissue structures of the ankle may cause it to pop. The popping sound may even be heard from the outside. There may be immense pain and swelling as a result.

Sprained Foot Diagnosis

The initial diagnosis of Sprained Foot begins by a physical examination of the injured foot. The doctor gently touches the injured area to check for symptoms like pain and inflammation. This may be followed by an X-Ray examination. X-Ray is required in severe cases of foot sprains where body weight cannot be supported. In many cases, X-Ray examination is conducted in both feet.

In rare cases, a computed tomography (CT) scan is performed to detect impairments in the injured foot. CT scan is generally carried out in case of athletes or professional dancers who suffer from joint instability or abnormal pain.

How to Treat a Sprained Foot?

Non-surgical treatment of Sprained Foot involves use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to provide relief from inflammation and pain. Surgical treatment for this condition is very rare. Operation is usually carried out for those cases that do not respond to non-surgical foot sprain treatment. Sprained Foot surgery is needed if instability becomes persistent despite months of non-operative cure and rehabilitation.

Surgical options for Sprained Foot treatment include

Arthroscopy

A surgeon analyses the joint to check for the presence of loose fragments of cartilage and bone. It also helps see if a fragment of the ligament has got entrapped in the bone joint.

Reconstruction

This process involves repairing the ruptured ligament with stitches. Reconstruction can also be done with tendons or ligaments found in other parts of the foot and ankle.

Sprained Foot Recovery Time

The time for Sprained Foot recovery usually depends on the intensity of pain, grade of sprain and treatments used for curing the condition. Mild sprains generally take a few weeks to heal while in case of severe sprains foot sprain healing time is about a couple of months. If surgery is performed, sprained foot healing time may depend on how extensive the operation has been. Foot sprain healing time can be extended if surgery involves a greater area.

Sprained Foot Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation of the foot after a surgical operation requires time and proper care. Adequate rest should be given to the affected region to help it heal. Rehabilitation can take a long time in case of an extensive surgical operation.

How to Heal a Sprained Foot?

Sprained ligament in foot can be healed with the aid of RICE treatment. RICE stands for

Rest

Give ample rest to the joint. Excessive stress on the area can lead to a rupture of the sprained foot ligaments.

Ice

Apply ice to the injured joint for 15-30 minutes four times every day. Cold application can provide relief from pain and inflammation.

Compression

Use an elastic bandage to wrap the swollen area. Compression will immobilize and protect the ligaments from further damage and prevent worsening of the condition.

Elevation

Use a couple of pillows to elevate your feet while lying down for sleep. Elevation can provide relief from discomforting symptoms and help in early recovery.
If you are suffering from a case of Sprained Foot, try to give as much rest as possible to the injured area and try ice application. If RICE fails to improve the situation, you should get in touch with a professional medical provider. This will help you recover faster from this condition.

References:

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00150

http://bcgraham.tripod.com/gregdower/Sprain.htm

http://sprainedfoot.net/treatment.html

http://www.mdguidelines.com/sprains-and-strains-foot

Published on July 1st 2011 by  under Bones, Joints and Muscles.
Article was last reviewed on 2nd July 2011.

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