Spraining your ankle once is both inconvenient and painful. But twice? We'd have to ask Real Housewives of Orange County star Shannon Beador can tell us about that.
Beador shared on Instagram Monday that she sprained her right ankle, less than a year after spraining her left ankle. “NOOOOOOOOO!!! Tripped on a stair after my walk yesterday and sprained my right ankle this time!” she captioned a shot of her leg in a medical boot with a scooter in the background.
“So I’m not the happiest person right now cause after my walk…this is what happened,” she said in an Instagram Stories video, per People. “You see that? You see that scooter? Yeah, I sprained my ankle. I tore two ligaments and might have a small fracture in a bone. I hurt my right foot now. Can’t drive.”
If you're a regular RHOC viewer, you know that Beador is wearing a boot on her left ankle in episodes that are currently airing. She sprained that ankle while she was on a walk and twisted it after stepping on a bump in the sidewalk, People reports.
A sprained ankle occurs when you stretch or tear the ligaments that keep your ankle bones held together.
Your ligaments have an important job to do—they help stabilize your joints and keep them from moving excessively. But when you sprain your ankle, the ligaments are forced outside of their normal range of motion. That can happen when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle in a weird way.
If you sprained your ankle, the Mayo Clinic explains that you can expect symptoms such as:
- pain (especially when you try to stand on your injured foot)
- tenderness when you touch the ankle
- a restricted range of motion
- instability in your ankle
- a popping sensation or sound when you injure your ankle
Sprained ankles are generally less serious than breaking or fracturing a bone, but they can still be incredibly painful. So it may be difficult to figure out exactly how severe your injury is in the moment.
For starters, it helps to think about where the pain is located. Typically, people who have a sprained ankle have pain underneath the ankle bone on the outside, not on the front or across the back of the ankle, Patrick Maloney, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF.
And although it'll hurt when you walk if you have a sprain, you'll still be able to, "whereas you often can’t with a break," Joan Williams, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at the UCLA Orthopaedic Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF.
But the degree to which you can actually handle putting weight on that ankle helps your doctor figure out how severe the sprain is. "There are some sprains that are so severe the person can’t put weight on it," Dr. Williams says.
Treatment for a sprained ankle really depends on how severe your injury was, but it’s important to be seen by a doctor regardless.
The first thing to do is find out if you actually have a sprain rather than a fracture or break, Dr. Maloney says. “The easiest way to make sure it’s not broken is to get an X-ray,” he says, but other imaging tests, like MRIs, CT scans, or ultrasounds, can also help.
If you do have an ankle sprain, your doctor will likely recommend stabilizing the ankle using an elastic bandage, sports tape, or an ankle support brace. In the case of a severe sprain, you may need a cast or walking boot.
"The boot is more for comfort," Brian Schulz, M.D., sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, tells SELF. "If you have a severe ankle sprain and can't bear weight, the boot can equally distribute the weight." However, he adds, "the sooner you can get out of it and move the ankle, the quicker the ankle will recover." You may also need crutches or a scooter (like Beador's) to help you get around, Dr. Maloney says.
Other home remedies—ice packs or ice baths, elevating your ankle, using over-the-counter pain relievers—can all help reduce the swelling and manage the pain.
Your exact recovery time will depend on how severe your sprain was. But in cases that require a boot, it's only worn for a week or two, which is followed by a few more weeks of exercises done at home or in physical therapy to help restore motion, flexibility, stability, and strength, Dr. Maloney says. In total, most people feel better within six weeks, he says.
Ultimately, it's a good idea to see a doctor if you suspect that you've sprained your ankle—especially if you have trouble standing or putting weight on that leg.
That's a sign that you're dealing with more than a minor sign, Dr. Schulz says. And if you don’t treat a sprain correctly, start using your ankle again too soon after you sprained it, or sprain your ankle repeatedly, you risk developing chronic ankle pain, chronic ankle joint instability, or arthritis in your ankle joint, the Mayo Clinic says.
Plus, failing to treat a sprain properly can lengthen the healing process, Dr. Williams says—and nobody wants that.