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What Causes a Sprain?

Sprains occur as a result of a traumatic over-stressing of a joint. When a ligament is pulled too far, too fast, or too hard, there’s a chance that it will stretch or tear. The severity of damage can run a very wide gamut: a tiny tear that heals on its own in a few days and a severe tear that detaches your ligament from the bone and requires surgery to repair both constitute sprains. 

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Where do Sprains Commonly Occur?

Sprains can occur in essentially any joint, though of course it’s much easier to sprain joints which are more flexible and more likely to be impacted during sports, occupational hazards, or any number of accidents. A sprained ankle is the most common form of sprain, often occurring due to taking a step poorly and rolling your ankle too far to the side. Our specialist for ankle sprains in Newport Beach can help you speed up your recovery.

Symptoms of a Sprain

  • Pain: It’s rare to have a sprain without having any pain when moving the affected joint. Paying close attention to where exactly you’re feeling the pain can help distinguish between sprains, strains, fractures, and other forms of injury.
  • Bruising: You’ll typically see some amount of bruising with serious sprains, especially those which affect less padded joints such as your ankle. Sprains more obscured by other tissues and bone (for example, a sprained knee) may only show slight redness or no coloring at all.
  • Swelling: Swelling is almost inevitable with a sprain and can be the first sign that you have a real injury. Often the swelling will occur before pain, bruising, or other symptoms.
  • Limited motion: Depending on the severity of your sprain, you may have difficulty moving the affected joint due to pain or serious stretching of the ligament. The more limited your motion is, the more you should consider seeing a doctor.
  • Tenderness: Mild sprains are often characterized only by tenderness: a bit of over-sensitivity to weight or touch, but not much else.
  • “Pop” feeling or sound: It’s extremely common for the moment of a sprain to be accompanied by an audible popping sound from the affected joint. In fact, it can be one of the easiest ways to determine a sprain has occurred instead of a different injury. You may feel a pop when you sprain a ligament, even if you don’t hear one.
  • Inflammation: Simple inflammation of the nearby tissues is nearly inevitable with a sprain, even a mild one.
  • Inability to support weight: Sometimes your first sign of injury won’t be pain or swelling, but a joint that refuses to support any weight.
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Risk Factors

Because sprains are injuries occurring primarily from physical accidents, the most common risk factors are shared with other causes of physical injury.

Physical activity while wearing ill-fitting equipment (such as running shoes) can contribute to an increased risk of sprain. Time spent on unsafe surfaces also increases your risk. Risk of a sprain also increases with age.

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Seeing a Doctor

Minor ankle sprain can be treated at home in most cases, with little more than first aid. Keep weight and strain off the sprained joint, and you should recover with time. More severe sprains, however, can lead to long-term loss of function if not treated professionally. 

The worst sprains involve significant stretching or tearing of tendons in a way which cannot heal on its own, and thus requires surgery. 

Knowing how severe your ankle sprain is can be difficult, and for this reason you generally want to see a doctor just to be sure. Signs of more serious injury mean you should see a doctor much sooner to address your ankle sprain. In Newport Beach, our specialist will guide you through the healing process and ensure signs of more serious injury are addressed properly. The signs to watch out for are: numbness in the affected area, a complete inability to support any weight on the affected joint, and serious pain — especially if the pain seems more associated with the bones of your joint than the ligaments.

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Ankle Sprain Treatment at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group

Dr. Salma Aziz, American Board of Podiatric Surgery Fellowship member, has many devoted patients due to her excellent care and outstanding attention to detail. In 2001, she founded Foot & Ankle Specialty Group to help families, individuals, and athletes of all ages get back to their activities and life with her in-office and surgical treatments. With the additions of Dr. Petrina Yokay and Dr. Jessica Arneson, who bring their own areas of specialty to the team, we are now able to offer even more to our patients. If you’re seeking ankle sprain treatment in the Rancho Santa Margarita and Newport Beach area, please contact us

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