Sprained ankle, do I need to see a Podiatrist

November 10, 2023 • mdconnect • ankle care
wrap sprained foot

A sprain indicates you’ve damaged critical supportive tissue in a complex joint like the ankle. Sprains in the ankle can be debilitating and lead to complications if not treated right. A podiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in diseases and injuries to the foot, ankle, and related structures in the leg. Whether you need to see a podiatrist for a sprain depends on a few different factors. Here are some things you should understand about ankle sprains.

What Is an Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain is the stretching or tearing of tough tissue that supports the ankle joint, called ligaments. Four major ligaments in this joint help stabilize it. When one tears or stretches, it affects the movement of the joint. It can also be painful. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. In the case of an ankle sprain, pain forces you to stop using the ankle so it can heal.

What Causes an Ankle Sprain?

You can get an ankle sprain if the joint moves out of its normal position. For example, you might:
  • Twist it
  • Jump and land wrong
  • Move on an uneven surface for an extended time
  • Step down on your ankle wrong, causing it to roll
If you play sports, chances are you’ve had more than a few sprains. They can happen to anyone, though.

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

The exact symptoms will depend on the severity of the injury. You could experience: Pain when you stand
  • Pain when you touch the ankle
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Joint instability
  • A popping sensation when you injure it
The extent of the symptoms allows doctors to grade the injury.

Ankle Sprain Grades

A minor sprain would heal on its own in most cases, so there is no need for a specialist like a podiatrist. The problem is there are different kinds of sprains, and some are more severe than others. It may take a specialist to make that determination. Medical doctors assign grades to sprain, such as:
  • Grade 1 is a minor sprain that leaves the ankle sore and a little swollen. Typically, there is no tearing of the ligaments.
  • Grade 2 involves a partial tear. The injury will likely be painful. You may notice some bruising around the joint, but you should be able to put weight on the ankle.
  • Grade 3 is a full tear in a ligament. There will be a lot of swelling and bruising. You may have felt a pop at the time of the injury. The ankle will feel unstable, and you can not stand on it.
The more serious the injury, the more likely you will need to see a podiatrist.

How Do You Know When To See a Podiatrist?

Some ankle sprains do well with simple first aid. Others require medical treatment, but how do you know? If you are unsure, plan to see the podiatrist for an evaluation of the injury. There are some signs that indicate a more severe sprain, though. Do a quick analysis of your injury before making your decision.


Look at your ankle. Is there any deformity? Is the foot at an angle, or do you see bone? If something doesn’t look right, your injury might be more severe than a sprain, and you need medical treatment. Some swelling or bruising would be normal with a sprain. Get emergency treatment in the ER if your foot is swollen, cold to the touch, or discolored.


Try touching the skin around the joint. If it is painful to the touch, that might indicate tearing in one of the outer ligaments.


Determine if you can put weight on the ankle. If you are unable to put any weight on the joint, you do need to see a podiatrist. If you can use your ankle and there is no significant swelling or bruising, try home treatment first. See the podiatrist if the ankle buckles when you try to stand or see significant swelling or bruising.

RICE Home Care

Minor sprains can respond well to home treatment using the acronym RICE:
  • Rest – You should stay off your ankle as much as possible.
  • Ice – Ice the injury three times a day for 10 minutes.
  • Compression – Put a wrap on it for compression.
  • Elevation – Elevate it with a pillow when possible.
Ankle sprains can become chronic without proper care, so it is worth having a podiatrist do an examination. Make an appointment online with Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group specialists and avoid ankle complications.

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Fill out the form below to reach Alamitos – Seal Beach Podiatry Group, or call Los Alamitos: (562) 203-6151 or Seal Beach: (562) 242-1559 for immediate assistance.

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