A sprained ankle can happen very quickly and suddenly, when the foot is twisted or turned in unexpectedly. Ankle sprains are the most common foot injury and the most common orthopaedic injury seen by doctors. A sprained ankle can occur during an athletic event or just by a missed stepping on an uneven surface.
The most common type of ankle sprain is when the ankle is turned inward or inverted. When this happens, the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that support and hold the joint tight, are stretched or sometimes torn. When an ankle sprain occurs symptoms will include pain, bruising and swelling on the foot and outside of the ankle.
The simplest treatment for an ankle sprain is rest, ice and elevation. You want to stop activity after an ankle sprain and rest the foot for at least 48 hours. In order to decrease the pain, swelling and bruising, it is also important to elevate the ankle and involved leg and apply ice for 20 minutes at a time for several times throughout the day. With these simple tips if your symptoms do not steadily improve, it is important to contact your doctor as you may have a more severe ankle injury, such as a tear or fracture.
Over the next several weeks as you continue to heal from your ankle sprain, it is important to keep your ankle moving and prevent stiffness. Simple exercises such as ankle pumps, ankle alphabets, heel-toe raises and calf stretches can help the ankle while it is healing. After the ankle sprain is completely healed, you want to stabilize the ankle joint by performing strengthening and balance exercises to help prevent another sprain from occuring.
If you experience an ankle sprain, take care of your injury by using these simple tips to aid in your healing.
1. Rest, Ice and Elevation
a. Discontinue your current activity
b. Elevate the ankle and involved leg and ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day
2. Keep it moving
a. Ankle pumps—while seated of laying moving the ankle up and down in a “pumping” motion
b. Alphabet writing—while seated of laying “write” each letter of the alphabet in the air by moving your toes
c. Heel-toe raises—while seated move your ankle up by pushing up on your toes and then rock back and push down on your heels
d. Calf stretch—while seated or laying, loop a towel around your toes and pull the ends of the towel and move your toes upward until you feel a stretch on the back of your leg.
3. Make sure it is strong
a. After it is healed return to running and jumping activities
b. Perform simple balance exercises to regain balance and proprioception.