Most people have twisted an ankle at some point in their life. But if your ankle gets swollen and painful after you twist it, you have most likely sprained it. This means you have stretched and possibly torn the ligaments in your ankle. Usually, the more pain and swelling you have, the more severe your ankle sprain is and the longer it will take to heal. After an ankle sprain, rehabilitation exercises will help you get better. Although ankle sprains are common, they are not always minor injuries. Some people with repeated or severe sprains can develop long-term joint pain and weakness. Treating a sprained ankle quickly can help prevent ongoing ankle problems. At Superior Foot and Ankle Care Center, we have experience treating foot and ankle sprains from patients all across the Long Beach area.
Causes of Ankle Sprains
Most ankle sprains happen when you make a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted; for example, when you play soccer or get tackled in football. Often the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and tear. Less often, the ankle rolls inward and the foot turns outward. This damages the ligaments on the inside of the ankle. An ankle sprain can range from mild to severe, depending on how badly the ligament is damaged. With a mild sprain, the ankle may be tender, swollen, and stiff, but it usually feels stable, and you can walk with little pain. A more serious sprain might include bruising and tenderness around the ankle, and walking is painful. In a severe ankle sprain, the ankle is unstable and may feel “wobbly.” You can’t walk, because the ankle gives out and may be very painful.
Treatment of Ankle Sprains
First off, an X-ray is recommended to determine if there is a fracture. If there is bruising and swelling after the injury an X-ray should be done. In many cases you can first use the PRINCE approach to treat your ankle:
- Protection. Use a protective brace, such as an air stirrup or another form of ankle support.
- Rest. Use crutches until you can walk without pain.
- Ice it. 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. After 48 hours, you can take contrast baths, which alternate cold and warm water.
- NSAIDs or acetaminophen. NSAIDs (such as Advil and Motrin) are medicines that reduce swelling and pain. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) reduces pain.
- Compression. An elastic compression wrap, such as an ACE bandage, will help reduce swelling. You wear it for the first 24 to 36 hours. Compression wraps do not offer protection. So you also need a 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 if possible. This helps to reduce swelling and bruising.
Proper treatment and rehabilitation exercises are very important for ankle sprains. If an ankle sprain does not heal right, the joint may become unstable. This can make your ankle weak and more likely to be reinjured. Before you return to sports and other activities that put stress on your ankle, it’s a good idea to wait until you can hop on your ankle with no pain. Taping your ankle or wearing a brace during exercise can help protect your ankle. Wearing hiking boots or other high-top, lace-up shoes for support may also help, but use caution. Don’t force your foot into a boot if you feel a lot of pain or discomfort.
Contact Dr. Vikki Today
If you think your twisted ankle may be sprained, or if you’re having some trouble with the stability in your ankles, or if you just want to come in and make sure everything is normal, give Superior Ankle and Foot Care Center a call at 562-420-9800 today. We have expert foot doctors on staff waiting to treat any and all issues you may have.