Many times people tend to confuse between a strain and a sprain and use these terms interchangeably. It is necessary to note the difference between a strain and a sprain. A strain is an injury to the soft tissues, muscle or tendon of the foot due to excessive stretching or overuse, while a sprain is a partial or total rupture of the ligament. A sprain causes more pain that a strain.
A foot sprain is one of the most common foot problems that thousands of individuals suffer on a daily basis. A sprained foot restricts the mobility and disrupts the daily activities. The ligament is a strong segment of thick, elastic tissues that attach the bones and cartilage to the joints. A sprain may occur when this ligament gets torn due to pressure exerted on it. There are three types of foot sprain depending on the severity of the condition. Grade 1 is a mild tearing of the ligament fibers and can be easily treated. In grade 2, the intensity of the tear is moderate and there is a loss of function. Grade 3 is the most severe where the ligament is completely torn and the pain is almost unbearable. Both grade 2 and grade 3 require medical intervention to cure this foot problem. Ankle sprains are also a common occurrence in foot sprains.
The symptoms may vary according to the grade and include bruising and swelling on the affected region. Sometimes, skin around the affected region may turn bluish purple in color due to disrupted blood circulation. Other symptoms are sharp foot pain that is triggered even by a slight movement and a feeling of numbness observed around the affected area. Healing time depends on the severity and the treatment provided for the same. Let's see how to treat a sprain in the foot.
How to Heal a Sprained Foot
The doctor will first diagnose the cause and severity of the sprain before administering treatment. The individual may have to undergo a series of tests if the pain is unbearable and the swelling has increased considerably. The doctor may also inquire about the cause and previous history of foot injury to assess the damage. In severe cases, the doctor may suggest an X-ray or CT scan to get a clear picture of the damage caused to the foot. There are various treatment methods for treating a sprained ankle, a few of which are given as follows:
✱ If the sprain is mild in nature, the methods of treatment may include keeping the foot in an elevated position, applying cold compress to the affected area and wrapping the leg with a bandage to reduce the swelling. Support the leg with a couple of pillows to elevate it while resting. This mode of treatment is popularly known as the 'RICE' (rest, ice, compression and elevation) treatment.
✱ Certain over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication can also be taken to reduce the pain and swelling. The doctor may prescribe the drugs and dosage based on the intensity of pain. Medication like NSAIDs or ibuprofen may have to be taken for two or three days, post injury, till the pain dies down completely.
✱ If the sprain is not intense and you are able to walk, then use crutches. This will help reduce the pressure and weight on the injured foot. Walk a short distance slowly with the help of crutches to improve balance. Use crutches till your ankle heals completely and you are able to walk normally and without support.
✱ In case the sprain is severe, then the foot may need a cast or immobilization boot. Surgery is normally the last option for treatment in case of complete ligament tear and internal bleeding. But post operative care is also essential to prevent complications like infection, formation of pus and bleeding etc. Recovery time for grade 1 sprain may take 2 to 6 weeks. Grade 2 and 3 may take a longer time to heal and may take 6 to 10 weeks for complete recovery.
Now you must be aware of the methods to treat a sprained foot. To speed up the recovery time, take complete rest by allowing only minimal movement of the injured leg. Mild exercises under the guidance of a chiropractor or physiotherapist can help speed up the recovery process. Always seek prompt medical attention if you experience severe pain and inability to walk. Take care!