Inversion ankle sprains are the most common injuries in the world. From a misstep off a curb to a rolled ankle on the football field, people from all walks experience this common problem that can lead to more serious conditions. Dr. Yeargain specializes in caring for the foot and ankle, and has been treating ankle sprains for years. During his medical residency, he worked with professional and college-level athletes at the University of Pittsburgh, and he brings the same level of expert care to patients from all walks of life. His approach is always conservative, locating the issue and determining the safest, most direct path to recovery that requires the fewest changes to your lifestyle. This often means avoiding surgery altogether, although he is specially trained in minimally invasive surgery, should it be necessary. With each case, he designs his treatment protocols to suit the lifestyle of his patient, helping you heal quickly, comfortably, and leaving you stronger than ever before.


What’s the difference between ankle sprain and ankle strain?

Typically when someone uses the word strain they’re talking about muscle or a tendon, whereas a sprain is a tearing of the ankle ligament. The ligament connects bone to bone, while tendon connects muscle to bone.

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Where is ankle sprain pain?

The most common type of ankle injury is the inversion ankle sprain. It’s actually the most common injury in the world. The inversion ankle sprain is the classic ankle injury, and is often associated with taking a misstep off a curb.

With inversion ankle sprains, the ankle is rolled so that the bottom of your foot points toward the midline of your body. This can injure the three separate ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Depending on the severity of the trauma, all three ligaments can be torn, either partially or completely. In those cases, you can experience swelling and pain all around the ankle.

Less common is eversion ankle injury, which occurs when your ankle is rolled in the other direction, so the sole of your foot faces outward. With those injuries, the ligament on the opposite side of your ankle is partially or completely torn. If you’ve taken a misstep, or experience a sports injury, or if your ankles are swollen and painful and you’re not sure why, Dr. Yeargain specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ankle sprains. He’ll be able to identify the problem after a quick examination, and get you on the road to recovery immediately.

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What treatments does Dr. Yeargain provide for ankle sprain?

Dr. Yeargain will first rule out a fracture with a quick x-ray. A fracture could require surgery, whereas many ankle sprains can heal on their own with proper guidance and preventative measures. After the x-ray and a physical examination, you and Dr. Yeargain will work out a course of treatment based on your level of pain and the limitation of your ability to walk. You’ll likely immobilize the ankle using a brace or a boot at first. Then, over a period of four to six weeks (on average) as you’re able to bear more weight, you and Dr. Yeargain will graduate down the level of immobilization, easing you back onto your ankle and making sure it heals correctly and doesn’t get injured again.

Dr. Yeargain’s treatment plans always depend on the lifestyle of the patient. Some patients will be okay with complete immobilization for a period of time, while others, such as athletes, will want to get back on their feet as quickly as possible. The rest period is always tailored to the individual, so for some it will only involve decreased mileage, or length of time used. In other cases, Dr. Yeargain might recommend only using the ankle to move straight ahead, versus side to side. In every case, he works hand in hand with the physical therapists to determine the safest, fastest return to optimal performance.

His goal is not to just heal and prevent injury, but to make sure you’re stronger than you ever were before, so it doesn’t happen again.

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Which ligaments are involved in ankle sprain?

In the case of inversion ankle injury (when the ankle is rolled so the sole of the foot is pointed toward the body) three ligaments on the outside of the ankle can be either partially or completely torn. With eversion ankle injury (the less common of the two), the ankle is rolled so the sole of the foot points away from the body. This can result in a partial or complete tear in the ligament on the opposite side of the ankle, the side closer to the center of the body.

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What are the common causes of ankle sprain, chronic or acute?

Ankle sprains are most commonly associated with trauma from something like taking a misstep off a curb and accidentally rolling your ankle, or sports. Inversion ankle sprains are an extremely common injury (reported to be the most common reason patients present at the ER in the world).

While they can happen to anyone, there are some conditions that might cause a person to be predisposed to ankle injury. People with high arches are more likely to have stability issues, which can result in injury. Also, sprains that might have happened in the past, but weren’t fully rehabbed by a specialist, can leave you more susceptible to repeat injury. This is commonly seen in people who played sports when they were younger, and who might have experienced an ankle sprain that was never properly fixed. If multiple ankle sprains are left to heal on their own, without being properly rehabbed, some patients can develop what is called chronic lateral ankle instability. The terms refers to a combination of mechanical and functional issues resulting from the primary ankle sprain. This can lead to chronic pain, instability, falls, or ankles that sprain or roll more easily than usual.

In some cases of chronic lateral instability, Dr. Yeargain can work with patients to determine the best footwear to keep them stable, and protect their ankles as much as possible. Shoes inserts can also help stabilize the ankle, and those are available right in Dr. Yeargain’s office. In other cases, Dr. Yeargain will use artificial ligaments to rebuild the ankle.

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Does an ankle sprain always require an MRI?

A lot of doctors will order an MRI if a patient comes in with what looks like an ankle sprain. However, Dr. Yeargain has been treating sprains for years, and has found that an MRI is unnecessary most of the time. He reserves the MRI for patients who have already gone through the normal cycle of treatment, but aren’t responding the way he would like. In some rare cases, a condition like cartilage damage might be preventing proper recovery, and an MRI can help identify that underlying problem.

With the majority of sprains, a quick x-ray is enough to rule out a fracture. After that, an in-office examination and consultation will provide Dr. Yeargain all the information he needs to begin discussing your course of treatment.

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When is an ankle sprain serious? Or are they always serious?

Any ankle sprain, however manageable it might feel at the time, can leave you more susceptible to repeat injury. Dr. Yeargain recommends seeing a specialist for all sprains, to make sure they are rehabbed correctly. While ankle sprains can heal on their own, it is always important to see a specialist to make sure the ankle is stable while it heals, and that there are no underlying injuries. If an ankle sprain is not rehabbed correctly, it can become worse, or leave you more susceptible to ankle sprains in the future. Ankle sprains can cause significant damage to your ligaments and some tendons, and repeated injury can lead to chronic lateral ankle instability.

Dr. Yeargain works closely with the physical therapists at Yeargain Foot & Ankle on every sprain. He’s careful to address not only the sprain, but the many minor injuries that are easy to miss, including small fractures that could require surgery.

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What’s unique about Dr. Yeargain’s approach to ankle sprain?

Dr. Yeargain had the unique opportunity to train at the University of Pittsburgh and work with some of the country’s finest athletes, including the Pittsburgh Steelers. His residency at the University of Pittsburgh gave him hands-on experience with both college and pro athletes, and he brings that same level of expert care to his patients today. Thanks to his expertise and years of experience, Dr. Yeargain is able to provide patients from any walk of life with a variety of treatment options. Your course of treatment will be custom-made to suit your lifestyle, so you can heal comfortably and quickly, leaving you stronger than ever.

Dr. Yeargain also offers a variety of rehab devices to help you get back on your feet. His in-office shop carries devices such as boots, braces, and inserts, and his online store has even more equipment to help walk strong along the road to recovery.

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If I’m an athlete, can you help me heal the ankle sprain fast?

Dr. Yeargain customizes all his treatment plans to suit the lifestyle of the individual. He has years of experience working with athletes, including residency training at the University of Pittsburgh, where he worked with both college athletes and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, Dr. Yeargain can recommend proper rehab protocols to get you back in the game as quickly as possible, while helping prevent further injury.

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How can ankle sprains be prevented in the future?

The key to the prevention of future ankle sprains is making sure the initial sprain is properly rehabbed by a specialist. Dr. Yeargain will help you recover from the injury, while rebuilding strength and stability, so your ankle is stronger than ever. If you’re an athlete, Dr. Yeargain will help you determine the proper footwear for your sport, and can recommend bracings or inserts based upon the biomechanics of your foot.

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