In Greek mythology, Achilles is born with a premonition of his death. Despite his mother’s every effort – and his success throughout many battles – a stray arrow hits his tendon, later killing him. This is the origin of the Achilles’ heel, a pain at the ankle that virtually everyone has experienced at one point in their lives.
Whether you’re training for the Olympics, are a professional track runner or just an ordinary individual, that shooting pain seems to rise out of your foot like fire, striking every nerve until your whole body feels paralyzed. It’s thankfully short-lived, but it’s agony. There are, however, more serious symptoms when one sprains their ankle.
Here are just a few of the more unpleasant sprained ankle symptoms, along with possible causes and treatment options:
Symptom #1: Ankle Swelling
First, it’s important to identify just what a sprained ankle entails. It usually occurs when playing sports and is tear or stretch in the ligaments of your ankle. Ligaments are soft and naturally stretchy, meant to balance your foot, but there’s only so much they can take. This varies from person to person.
Like any bodily injury to body muscle, your ankle may swell, growing noticeably fatter than it’s twin. It’s a natural bodily response to an injury, as blood rushes to the area to heel it. Fortunately, this can usually be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter pain medication. The body is a magnificent self-healer, but if the injury still hurts and stays swollen after two weeks, a medical evaluation is ideal.
At that point, something may have broken or the damage to the ligament has been more significant than previously thought. Ask a chiropractor to examine your sprained ankle symptoms before they turn even more serious.
Symptom #2: Ankle Tenderness
Ankle tenderness is another sprained ankle symptom. Just like a bruise, further pressure on a sprain may lead to more painful sprained ankle symptoms. It’s best to keep your hands off it and, when possible, use it sparingly. Unlike more serious conditions, this actually is something bedrest, ice and aspirin can cure. Those with liver issues should avoid Aspirin, however, as it can cause a bleed. If that’s the case, stick to Tylenol or some lesser over-the-counter pill.
Symptom #3: Ankle Popping
This sprained ankle symptom is a clear and evident signal, followed instantaneously by all the further pain. You will hear a popping when you “roll” your heel. If it’s inaudible, at the very least you will feel the sensation of the pop. This resounding noise is the ankle falling out of place, ligaments tearing or stretching beyond capacity.
At this point, the best way to react is to get off the foot as soon as possible. Basketball coach Olga Hrycak says the best remedy is to ice the sprained ankle immediately, but not permanently. 15 minutes of ice, 15 minutes without alternately is the easiest, cheapest and safest way to treat the condition.
Symptom #4: Ankle Sprains
There are three grades of ankle sprains, based on the severity of the injury.
- Grade 1: Naturally, the first grade is the least serious. Your ankle may be swollen and you will experience some discomfort and pain, but it will pass by itself over time.
- Grade 2: This is when you have partially torn a ligament. Symptoms include prolonged pain and swelling. You may have difficulty putting weight on the foot for some time. This may also include some noticeable bruising due to the fact that the tear has caused a bleed just beneath the skin.
- Grade 3: This is the most serious condition; you have fully torn a ligament. You will hear or feel the popping sensation mentioned earlier, and all the above symptoms will occur. You will also be unstable, ,your foot no longer capable of supporting any of your weight. The ligament is no longer able to do its job.
Your entire leg may also begin to feel weakness. It’s at this point – particularly if the prolonged pain refuses to go away – that a medical examination is necessary. If you are a professional sportsman, a doctor of sports medicine will quickly and easily recognize the injury for what it is.
Symptom #5: Sports & Exercise Decline
There are certain sports more threatening to your ankle than others. After all, poker is considered a sport and few have managed to incur ankle damage from doubling down. The most common sports-related sprained ankles come from the result of basketball, volleyball and soccer.
If you play sports, it’s a safe bet you also regularly excercise. Normal routine exercise will keep you more limber, allowing more flexibility in the foot. However, even the most professional and healthy person can still manage to seriously damage their foot. Rest assured, it’s not going to end your contract with the team, but you may do well to take a few games off.
Achilles was a great warrior before he fell, after all.