You have probably had an ankle sprain at one time in your life. However, after you have twisted your ankle and it has become excruciatingly painful and swollen, you probably aren’t sure if it is a strain, sprain, or even if it’s broken.
Ankle sprains are very common occurrence. After all, we are standing on our feet every day and accidents always happen eventually. By understanding what an ankle sprain is, it will help you better treat it, and it will help you prevent other chronic ankle disorders in the future.
What is an Ankle Sprain?
Ankle sprains are described as damaging the ligaments in your ankle. This happens when the ligaments are either overstretched or torn, and it normally occurs on the outer part of your ankle.
Your ligaments are strong flexible strands of tissues that help keep your joints together, and connect your bones. Your ankle ligaments also keep your ankle stable, and prevent it from moving too far to either side.
The seriousness of your ankle sprain is judged on whether you have completely torn your ligaments, if you have a partial tear, or if it is just stretched.
Oftentimes, people confuse the words strain and sprain. A strain differs from a sprain, because the muscles are damaged, and not the ligaments.
How to Treat an Ankle Sprain
- R.I.C.E. – The best First Aid treatment for an ankle sprain is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The ice will help to stop bruising and it will reduce the swelling. It’s best to ice it for about a half and hour, and for two or three times a day for the first 48 hours.
- Heat – Heat is always suggested after the first 48 hours. When you apply heating pads, or immerse your foot in very warm water, this can help bring back proper blood circulation in your ankle.
- Stretch – You need to keep your foot stretched. This will help loosen up your calf muscles, and it will help your ankle get its full range of motion back.
- See a Doctor – The last suggestion for treating an ankle sprain is to see a doctor. This could also be at the top of your list of treatments if the pain continues to be severe after the first 24 hours, and the swelling doesn’t go down. If you can not put your full weight on your foot and ankle after a couple of hours, you need to have a full evaluation.
- A podiatrist can conduct a physical examination, and might suggest an x-ray , diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to be sure that you haven’t broken anything.
Just because ankle sprains are common, doesn’t mean that they are not serious. You need to take good care of your ankles, and see a doctor if the problem doesn’t go away. Contact InMotion Foot & Ankle Specialists today.