Injuries to the ankles are among the most common types of injuries, with an estimated 28,000 occurring in the United States on a daily basis. Although they are quite common during sporting events, non-athletes are often quite susceptible to ankle injuries as well. The majority of the time, the injury suffered is a sprain.
Sprains occur when the ligaments and/or tendons in the ankle become damaged. This is usually the result of the tissue being stretched past its normal range of motion, such as when you twist your ankle. Other common movements that cause ankle sprains include:
- Landing awkwardly following a jump
- Stepping on an uneven surface (such as another person’s foot)
- Impact on the heel during running
- Stressing the foot while it is in a fixed position
Although these types of injuries are quite common, they should not be taken as a reason to avoid physical activity. Still, there are some things to keep in mind to help you treat ankle sprains and prevent them in the future.
Despite what coaches have been saying for years, the best course of action for an ankle sprain is not to “walk it off.” If you have experienced an ankle injury, the primary course of treatment is RICE:
If you experience an ankle injury and think it may be sprained, the first step is to take the weight off of it. If you cannot walk more than four steps on the injured ankle, you should seek medical attention, as this may indicate a more serious condition. Although an ankle sprain is not an emergency situation, seeing a podiatrist like Dr. Aslmand can help ensure an optimal recovery.
A compression bandage can be wrapped around the injured ankle to help control swelling and immobilize the joint. An ice pack should be applied for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, with rest periods of 10 minutes in between. Using a wet cloth between your skin and the ice pack should be used to help you avoid tissue damage. Keeping you foot elevated (above the heart) is also helpful for reducing swelling.
Contrary to popular belief, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should not be taken until at least 48 hours after the initial injury. This is because some initial inflammation is part of the normal healing process.
Although you should not try to walk off an ankle sprain immediately after injuring it, prolonged periods of rest are not ideal either. Restoring strength to the damaged tissue is actually a part of an ideal recovery. Dr. Aslmand’s supervision can be especially helpful for this phase of the recovery process, recommending the best exercises to restore your ankle strength and monitoring your progress along the way.
Whether you are a seasoned athlete or completely sedentary, the biggest risk factor for experiencing an ankle sprain is a previous injury. If you have had an ankle injury in the past, you can reduce the risk of future injuries by performing strengthening exercises. These exercises can be a part of functional rehabilitation during recovery from an ankle sprain or as part of a regular exercise plan.
If you have experienced an ankle sprain, or think you might have, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Aslmand sooner rather than later. Under his supervision, you can restore your ankle strength and help prevent future injuries.