Treating an ankle sprain

Even though sprains are often associated with athletes and women in high-heels, this ailment is common among all sorts of people. In fact, about 25,000 people suffer from it every day. So what exactly is an ankle sprain? It is typically an injury to a ligament in the ankle. Ligaments are tissue bands that help to hold the bones together. Even though ligaments are flexible, sometimes a sudden twist can make them snap or stretch too far.

Ankle sprains are graded as per the severity, while Grade I indicates that ligaments are not torn but stretched; Grade II indicates that ligaments are partly torn; and Grade III means a completely torn ligament.

You may get a sprain if your foot lands at an angle on the ground. Your risk of an ankle sprain is greater if you:

  1. Have suffered from ankle sprains before
  2. Play, run or walk on uneven surfaces
  3. Wear shoes that do not have proper support
  4. Play sports that need sudden direction change, such as, soccer, football, and basketball
What do ankle sprains feel like?

Some signs of an ankle sprain include:

  1. Mild to severe pain
  2. Swelling
  3. Problem moving the ankle
  4. Bruising
Treating an ankle sprain:

Minor to moderate sprains have the ability to heal on their own with time. To fasten the healing process, you can:

  1. Rest the ankle. Avoid putting too much weight or pressure on the affected ankle. In case the pain is too much, you will need crutches till the time it goes away.
  2. Reduce swelling and pain by icing your ankle. Do this for 15-20 minutes each day for two to three hours for a couple of days, or till the swelling is better. After this, ice the area once a day till there is no symptom left.
  3. Compression. Wrap an elastic bandage to keep the swelling down.
  4. Raise your ankle on a cushion when lying down or sitting.
  5. Make use of ankle stirrups or braces to give support to an ankle.
  6. Use anti-inflammatory painkillers. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can help with swelling and pain. However, such drugs may have side effects, such as stomach upset and ulcers. It is best to take them with food, and they must only be used occasionally, unless the physician specifies otherwise.
  7. Practice strengthening and stretching exercises if the doctor recommends them.
Even Grade III sprains, where the ligament is torn completely, may repair naturally. In some cases, you may require surgery. During such operation, the doctor may remove small bits of the damaged and torn ligament, cartilage and bone. The ligament may also be reconstructed (substituted with a biologic material), or repaired (sutured together). Once the surgery is over, you may require a cast for a couple of months.

Although ankle strain is very common it is always a good idea to visit your doctor to make sure the injury does not get aggravated.


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