You might know the feeling all too well. You are walking along having a great conversation with your friend and don’t notice the uneven pavement. Then whoops you feel a snap and your foot rolls over. Or you might be playing tennis and trying to get that faraway ball and feel an unfortunate snap in your ankle. Ankle injuries can range from a minor twist to long-term joint pain and weakness if the sprains are repeated.
Ankle sprains are caused by making a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted causing the foot to roll outwards or inwards. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and possibly tear. Shortly after the sprain the ankle area will usually swell and be accompanied by pain. Usually the worse the sprain, the more pain and swelling.
The best course of action when treating sprained ankles is using the RICE method:
Rest-rest the ankle and limit the amount of weight you put on it. Use crutches if necessary
Ice-For at least the first 24 to 72 hours, or until the swelling goes down, apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two during the day. Always keep a thin cloth between the ice and your skin, and press the ice pack firmly against all the curves of the affected area.
Compression-Wearing a compression wrap for the first 24 to 36 hours will help reduce swelling. However, compression wraps don’t offer protection and you will need an ankle brace to protect your ankle if you try to put weight on it.
Elevation- Raise your ankle above the level of your heart for 2 to 3 hours a day to help to reduce swelling and bruising.
Ankle sprains can really affect your lifestyle making it difficult to maintain physical activity. However, if you follow the correct treatment you will get back to your previous level of activity sooner rather than later. The stronger your leg muscles are, the less likely you are to sprain an ankle and the more accustomed your brain is to anticipating and firing those muscles, the less injury-prone you will be. There are exercises and ways to prevent future ankle sprains. Wearing an ankle brace during recovery will help you with gaining mobility.