By: Joyce Yan DPM
One of the most common and painful injuries for athletes and active people is the ankle sprain. An ankle sprain occurs when you “twist” your ankle on uneven ground or you accidentally trip or fall causing your ankle to roll inward or outward. This abnormal stress to your ankle can cause a tear of the ligaments and soft tissues that secure your ankle leading to pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty placing full weight on your foot.
We recommend the RICE protocol treatment immediately with all ankle sprains, as this will decrease the pain and swelling associated with your body’s response to trauma. RICE therapy is an acronym for: REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION.
- Resting the injured area will allow it to heal more quickly and help decrease the stress to the traumatized area.
- Icing the area will decrease the swelling and assist with pain reduction. Ice should be applied as soon as possible for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first 48 hours.
- Compression with an ACE wrap should also be applied to decrease the swelling. This should be applied so it is snug, but not so tight that it cuts off the circulation causing your toes to turn purple or increase the pain.
- Elevating your ankle above the level of your heart will prevent excessive swelling of the injured ankle.
Ankle sprains can vary in severity, and treatment varies based on the degree of the sprain. A severe sprain requires examination and evaluation to rule out other injuries such as multiple ligament tears, small ankle/foot fractures, or high ankle sprains. If proper treatment is not implemented it can lead to long term ankle pain, early arthritis, or instability and weakness of your ankle.
If you are still experiencing pain, weakness or instability in your ankle a week after the injury, it is advised that you seek professional help from a podiatrist.
Here at Mill Creek Foot & Ankle Clinic we have experience dealing with sport related injuries, have the ability to do on-site x-rays, and the treatment modalities to ensure proper care.
Just keep in mind that the old saying of “If you can walk on it, it ain’t broke” does not always hold true.
Be your own advocate and be proactive in your foot and ankle treatment to ensure that you return to activity sooner and prevent future complications.