How to Treat a Torn Ligament in Your Ankle
A ligament is tissue that connects bones to other bones. Elastic and tough, ligaments stabilize joints like your ankle and prevent them from moving too much. Tearing or severing the ligament in your ankle causes an ankle sprain. Your ankle will twist and roll in unnatural ways, causing pain and swelling. A sprained ankle can often be treated at home but must first be evaluated by a medical professional for its severity. In some cases, an ankle sprain caused by a torn ligament can mean a cast or surgery.
- Step 1
See your health care provider as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis. You may recognize the symptoms of a sprained ankle, such as bruising, swelling and pain. However, there may also be fractures of the bone or full breaks. You will not know for sure until you have a medical professional examine you. He will also do an MRI to determine that the ligament is torn at all and, if so, how much of it has torn. Do not proceed unless your doctor has ruled out any more serious health conditions.
- Step 2
Do not put weight on your ankle sprain while you are waiting for it to heal. Use crutches when you have to stand in order to avoid putting weight on the affected ankle. You should spend most of your time with the affected ankle elevated to give the swelling a chance to go down. The more time you spend resting your ankle sprain, the faster your torn ligament will heal.
- Step 3
Apply an ice pack during the first two days after the ankle sprain to constrict the blood vessels in the affected ankle, reducing swelling and pain symptoms. Use the ice pack intermittently and only for up to 30 minutes at a time. Avoid tissue damage by not applying the ice pack directly to your skin. Instead, use a cloth or blanket to separate the ice pack from the skin on your ankle.
- Step 4
Take an over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, for the pain. Over-the-counter medication should be enough to relieve any pain associated with an ankle sprain. If you need something stronger, talk to your health care provider. He may examine you again because extensive pain may be a sign of complications with a torn ligament.
- Step 5
Use compression bandages to keep the ankle in place and speed the healing process. If the ligament is severely torn or completely severed, you may require a cast to stabilize the ankle joint. In some cases, the torn ligament is so severe that the injury requires surgical repair before the healing can begin. These are extreme cases, though, and usually involve elite athletes.
Tips & Warnings
- If you suffered your torn ligament while participating in sports, be sure to talk to your doctor before you resume playing. He or she may advise you to wear an ankle brace to prevent reinjuring the affected ankle.