A sprained foot is a common and rather painful injury which significantly restricts movements of the injured area and consequently interferes in normal every day activities. This injury features with damage or tearing of the connective tissue such as ligaments, cartilage and/ or joint capsule of one or more joints in the foot.
A sprained foot typically occurs when a foot is suddenly twisted due to stepping onto an uneven surface. Furthermore, sprained foot may also develop after kicking of a heavy object and in case of inappropriate landing after a jump. A sprained foot is also a common injury in all the athletes which overuse their feet. This particularly refers to ballet dancers, people who practice gymnastics etc.
Symptoms of Sprained Foot
It is common for patients with a sprained foot to experience sudden pain during causative activity. Still, the pain and stiffness may occur after the causative activity. The symptoms may occur the morning after the injury. The pain is increased with all the activities which include pressure onto the injured joint. Walking and similar activities are particularly painful. Running, kicking, jumping and standing on the tip toes are practically impossible due to severe pain. The nearby skin may be bruised, and the entire area is swollen, stiff and tender.
This injury can be classified into three grades according to the intensity of the symptoms. In the first degree sprain there is only slight over-stretching of the ligaments. In second degree sprain the ligaments are extensively stretched and partially torn. And finally, the third degree sprain features with complete rupture of the ligaments.
Treatment for Sprained Foot
The patients are due to visit their doctor right after the injury. The doctor confirms the diagnosis after performing a physical examination and with the assistance of X-ray of the injured area. X-ray is performed to rule out fracture of the bones in the foot. In some cases patients undergo CT scan or MRI of the foot. This is mostly done if X-ray of the foot is not clear enough and a doctor cannot rule out the presence of fracture.
The cornerstone of treatment for sprained foot is bed rest. This way the joint is spared from pressure caused by body weight and it can heal. In initial phase the pain and swelling of the foot may be partially alleviated with cold compresses. It is good to repeatedly wrap the injured foot with a towel that contains a few ice cubes over the following three days. Inflammation may be additionally reduced if the leg is kept in elevated position. If sprained foot causes severe pain patients are prescribed anti-inflammatory medications.
Some patients need to wear a cast or a splint and surgery is reserved only if foot ligaments are badly damaged. The recovery time lasts approximately 2-3 weeks and if the injury has been serious a patient may fully recover after a couple of months.