There are many bones and ligaments in your foot. A ligament is strong flexible tissue that holds bones together.
When the foot lands awkwardly, some ligaments can stretch and tear. This is called a sprain.
When the injury occurs to the middle part of the foot, this is called a foot sprain.
Most foot sprains happen due to sports or activities in which your body twists and pivots but your feet stay in place. Some of these sports include football, snowboarding, and dance.
There are three levels of foot sprains.
Symptoms of a foot sprain include:
Your doctor may take a picture of your foot, called an x-ray, to see how severe the injury is.
If it is painful to put weight on your foot, your doctor may give you a splint or crutches to use while your foot heals.
Most minor-to-moderate injuries will heal within 2 to 4 weeks. More severe injuries, such as injuries that need casting or splinting, will need a longer time to heal, up to 6 to 8 weeks. The most serious injuries will need surgery to reduce the bone and allow the ligaments to heal. The healing process can be 6 to 8 months.
Follow these steps for the first few days or weeks after your injury:
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
You can begin light activity once the pain has decreased and the swelling has gone down. Slowly increase the amount of walking or activity each day.
There may be some soreness and stiffness when you walk. This will go away once the muscles and ligaments in your foot begin to stretch and strengthen.
Your doctor or physical therapist can give you exercises to help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in your foot. These exercises can also help prevent future injury.
You may not need to see your doctor again if your injury is healing as expected. Your doctor may want to follow up if the injury is more severe.
Call the doctor if you have:
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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