Sprains and strains are some of the most frequently occurring injuries that people sustain throughout their lives, and if they’re severe it can be both highly painful and disabling. City Podiatry in New York City boasts a team of experienced and board-certified podiatrists who specialize in diagnosing and treating sprains and strains of the foot and ankle. If you’ve sustained a sprain or strain, call the Midtown Manhattan office or schedule an appointment online today.

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What are sprains and strains?

Sprains and strains are both caused by the stretching or tearing of connective tissues. Although most people use the terms interchangeably, strictly speaking, a sprain is a stretched or torn ligament and a strain is a stretched or torn tendon or muscle. Ligaments connect bones to other bones in your joints, while tendons connect muscles to bones.

Sprains and strains are common injuries that most people experience at some point, and are frequently due to falling or twisting during physical activity. A mild sprain or strain may heal on its own with rest and care, but a more serious sprain or strain can cause severe pain and affect your ability to bear weight or walk on the affected limb.

What are the symptoms of a sprain or strain?

In most cases, you’ll be aware that you’ve incurred a foot or ankle sprain or strain because you’ll feel pain as the ligament, muscle, or tendon stretches or tears. Following the initial injury, symptoms arise such as:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Limping

If you have any of these symptoms, schedule a visit at City Podiatry to make sure you haven’t sustained a fracture or dislocation, and to identify which structures are affected.

How is a sprain or strain diagnosed?

During your consultation at City Podiatry, your podiatrist first goes over your medical history and asks you how the injury occurred, then examines your foot and ankle. They need to gather as much information as possible to help determine what type of injury you have and why it happened.

Your podiatrist feels your foot and ankle to check for abnormalities and see where the pain is worst, and moves your foot around to test your range of motion. After your examination, your podiatrist may use diagnostic tests to confirm precisely which ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones are involved. Tests may include:

  • Digital X-rays
  • Ultrasound scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

City Podiatry has state-of-the-art digital X-ray and ultrasound technology on-site to provide patients with immediate results.

How are sprains and strains treated?

Milder sprains and strains should respond to basic treatment such as rest, compression with a bandage, ice or cooling gel to reduce inflammation, and raising your injured leg to prevent swelling. Pain-killing and anti-inflammatory medications can help, but shouldn’t be used to mask the symptoms so effectively that you resume normal activities before the injury has time to heal properly.

More severe sprains and strains require additional treatment to aid recovery and alleviate pain. Options include:

  • Immobilization in a brace, cast, shoe, or boot
  • Using crutches to keep weight off the injured area
  • Physical therapy
  • Electric stimulation therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Ultrasound

Sprains and strains that aren’t improving after six weeks may need further treatment, which can include:

  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Ultrasonic debriding using Tenex Health TXⓇ
  • Surgery
  • Regenerative medicine, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
  • Ligament and tendon grafts
  • Arthroscopy for ankle injuries

To ensure complete recovery from a sprain or strain and prevent a recurrence in the future, schedule an appointment at City Podiatry online or by phone today.