Treating Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain occurs when the foot is suddenly twisted or rolled, forcing the ankle joint out of its position. All ligaments have a specific range of motion and boundaries that allow them to keep the joint stabilized. When these ligaments are pushed past this range, it causes a sprain. Sprained ankles usually involve injuries to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

Ankle sprains can happen to anyone at any age. They usually occur as a result of playing sports or walking on an uneven surface, but may even occur when inappropriate footwear is worn.

Symptoms of an ankle sprain include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Stiffness

Generally, it’s difficult to put weight on a sprained ankle. If you have sprained your ankle, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can take steps to prevent further damage to the ankle, summarized as the RICE approach.

  • R – Rest. Stay off the ankle as much as possible. You may need to use crutches until it is no longer painful to walk without them.
  • I – Ice. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes every one to two hours. Continue application for the first 48 to 72 hours or until swelling goes down.
  • C – Compression. An elastic compression wrap should be worn for the first 24 to 36 hours to help decrease swelling. Additionally, a protective brace should be worn if you try to bear weight on the injured ankle. The compression wrap should be wrapped securely, but make sure that it isn’t too tight, as this could cause numbness, tingling, increased pain, or swelling in the area below the bandage.
  • E- Elevation. If possible, raise the ankle above the level of your heart for 2 to 3 hours a day to decrease swelling and bruising.

If no prescription pain relievers are currently being taken, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen may help to reduce pain and swelling.

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