The fact that our foot contains 28 bones and 57 joints makes it vulnerable to a range of problems. Among these, one of the most common problems is that of a sprained foot. A sprain is basically an injury to the ligament―a fibrous tissue which connects two bones to each other. Such an injury generally occurs due to stretching or tearing of the tissue.
Regardless of which part of the body it is, sprains are categorized as Grade I, Grade II, or Grade III sprains on the basis of the severity of tears. Grade I injury is characterized by microscopic tears, grade II injury by a partial tears, while grade III injury is characterized by completely torn ligaments.
Symptoms of a Sprained Foot
The symptoms of foot sprain largely depend on which area of your foot is affected. Generally, sprains occur in two distinct areas of the foot: the midfoot and first metatarsophalangeal joint (also referred to as the turf toe). While the midfoot and surrounding region is affected in the case of midfoot sprain, the big toe is affected in the case of first metatarsophalangeal joint sprain. When we say affected, we refer to the swelling and tenderness that will be experienced in the particular part of the foot.
Other than the most common symptom, i.e., the sharp pain, you may also observe discoloration of skin, typically marked by bluish-black appearance, at the affected area. One should also take a note of the fact that the symptoms depend on the severity of the injury. While mild or moderate injury will result in the aforementioned symptoms, severe injury will hamper the weight-bearing ability of the leg, thus leading to a lot of inconvenience. Though the person will experience swelling and pain in the toe in case of a sprained toe, it's unlikely that the joint will be affected.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctor will take all these symptoms into consideration during the diagnosis, as they play a crucial role in determining ideal treatment options. During the diagnosis, the doctor will also look into your lifestyle, i.e., your occupation, the recreational activities you indulge in, etc. The flexibility and the range of motion of the affected foot will also be taken into consideration. In case of severe injury, you will be advised to go for an X-ray.
Basically, the injury will heal with time, but you need to take some precautions to make sure that the condition doesn't result in further complications. In case of mild or moderate sprain, you will be subjected to the RICE rule of treatment.
- Rest the joint.
- Ice the injured area to reduce swelling.
- Compress the swelling with an elastic bandage.
- Elevate the injured area.
On an average, the recovery time for sprained foot may range between 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. The healing time largely depends on how the precautionary measures that need to be taken to make sure that the injury is not aggravated, are followed. If proper care is not taken, there are significant chances that the sprain will result in some severe foot problem, such as chronic foot pain, which will be worse than the sprain.