Sprained ankle is a common injury of people of all ages. It affects athletes and also occur in people who do not engage in regular physical activity. It can result from overstrenuous exercises or develop accidentally when one twists the ankle while walking (taking an awkward step or walking on the uneven surface that makes the sole of the foot face inwards). Fortunately, the injury is not serious and has not long-term effects on the function of the injured ankle.
Sprained Ankle Signs and Symptoms
In an ankle sprain, the ligament that surrounds the ankle gets damaged due to a sudden twist or sideways movement of the foot. Even though ligaments represent strong connective tissue bands, they are not elastic enough to sustain such unexpected twisting hence the injury occurs.
The injury typically leads to swelling and bruising of the injured ankle. Swelling develops immediately after the injury while bruising occurs within 24 hours after the injury. Tear in the affected ligament or its complete rupture is accompanied by pain of different intensity. The pain becomes even more severe if the injured ankle is moved.
Sprained Ankle Treatment
Timely treatment for sprained ankle is of great importance. It helps with all the unpleasant symptoms and allows the ankle to heal and recover completely in short period of time.
Medications for Sprained Ankle
Patients can benefit a lot from over-the-counter pain reliving drugs/anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
The Golden Rule
As it is the case with all injuries, the injured ankle will benefit if one applies the golden rule -R.I.C.E. This abbreviation refers to rest, ice, compression and elevation. The injured part is supposed to be treated with ice packs several times per day. By applying ice packs for 15-20 minutes, one can successfully control swelling. Patients should have plenty of rest and try to keep the foot elevated while sitting or lying. Compression is achieved with a simple ace bandage. Proper immobility of the injured ankle can be also achieved with a brace or cast prescribed by the doctor.
When to Consult a Health Care Provider?
Even though an ankle sprain is usually not so severe injury and can completely heal even without the doctor's help, it is of great importance to consult a well experienced health care provider especially in case one cannot walk more than four steps on the affected ankle immediately after the injury. Furthermore, if swelling and pain do not subside after four days of self-treatment, one must consult the doctor as soon as possible. The same stands in the case the pain is unbearable and there is severe swelling and redness over a bony area of the foot. Finally, people who end up with lumps and bumps which are usually not on the affected spot or their ankles feel weak should seek medical attention.
It is not recommended to engage in rehabilitation process without consulting a physiotherapist who will recommend the best exercises to restore the range of movement in the ankle.