An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments connecting the foot and ankle bones together overstretch or tear. Athletes, especially, are at a higher risk of experiencing these types of injuries due to the amount of twists, turns, jumps, and sudden starts and stops that are often associated with participating in sports activities.
Whenever your foot lands off-balance by a sideways motion or misstep, the muscles in your feet can give way and allow the ankle to move further than its ligaments and tendons are meant to. And these sudden injuries can cause pain – both as they occur and throughout the healing process that follows. In severe cases, swelling and bruising may even spread further into the foot.
The reality is that a lot of stress is put on your ankles on a daily basis. Things like overtraining, a simple misstep, or colliding with other players can all result in a painful ankle sprain. Even a minor twist may cause you to feel a sharp, sudden pain and weakness in your ankle. And what often follows is swelling and bruising around the area, as well as pain and difficulty bearing weight.
Whether you are a morning jogger or a weekend warrior, an ankle sprain can keep you sidelined and away from doing the things you love. But the good news is that our team of experts here at Kalamazoo Podiatry can help you recover from this painful injury and give you some pointers on how to prevent it from happening to you again in the future.
What Should You Do About an Ankle Sprain?
Whenever you experience an ankle sprain, you should seek appropriate treatment immediately. But while you wait to be examined, there are definitely some measures you can take at home to reduce pain and discomfort.
First, stop whatever activity you are engaged in – even a mild sprain can worsen significantly if you continue to bear weight or keep pushing through the pain. Without adequate rest and treatment, the damaged tissues will not heal properly and could result in a chronically weakened ankle that is at risk for re-injury.
Keep your foot elevated and take anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling. Icing the area is also very important – but keep in mind to never apply ice directly to your skin, use a towel for protection. Finally, wrap the injured foot or wear a brace to promote better stability while the joints begin to heal.
You should keep in mind that although ankle sprains may seem like a simple injury, they can result in significant chronic pain and ankle weakness when not treated the correctly. If you are a sports fanatic, don’t push through the pain – instead, deal with the situation right away and using proper first aid techniques. In doing so, you will find relief faster and avoid future complications.
Recovering from Ankle Sprains
When you come visit our office, we will conduct a thorough evaluation of your foot and ankle to determine the severity of your injury – we may even use X-rays to rule out any potential fractures. Depending on what we find, we can then create a tailored treatment plan for your specific situation.
Given some time, and after careful monitoring of the injury, we will be able to determine the best (and safest) time for you to start activities once again. In some cases, however, physical therapy may be recommended to rebuild strength and stability in your ankle.
Using the R.I.C.E. treatment will most likely also be recommended:
- Give your ankle a break – avoid bearing weight for at least 48 hours after the injury.
- Continue to apply ice to the area as much as possible – remember to protect your skin by placing a thin towel between the ice pack and your skin.
- Wrap the area with an elastic bandage or wear a brace – but make sure it isn’t too tight or too loose.
- Keep your foot elevated above your heart level.
In severe cases, we may recommend taping, splinting, or casting the injured foot – this will completely immobilize the ankle and allow the torn tissues to rest and heal in the proper position. In this case, you may need to use crutches.
Though rare, surgery is sometimes required to correct severe cases. This is usually the method used when a sprain completely tears a ligament or pulls it away from the bone.
More serious cases of tendinitis may require immobilization (via a cast, walking boot, brace, etc.) or, rarely, a surgical repair.
Don’t allow your tendinitis to continue slowing you down—or worsen into a severe tendon rupture! If home care isn’t working, give us a call so we can help. You can schedule with Kalamazoo Podiatry by calling (269) 373-1019. You can also request an appointment online.
Preventing Ankle Sprains
As it is true with most foot and ankle problems, prevention is key. Below are some easy things you can do to prevent ankle sprains from getting you down in the first place:
- Wear high-topped, lace-up shoes for extra stability (when appropriate for the activity you are performing).
- Wear shoes with cushioned insoles if you walk or run on pavement or other hard surfaces.
- Try to avoid tripping as much as possible (we know that’s easier said than done…).
- Alternate directions of route to avoid overusing muscles.
- Stretch before and after exercise.
Though we certainly hope that you never have to experience painful ankle sprains, we also know that being active comes with risk of injury. So don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you experience a sprain (or any other foot and ankle problem)!