What are Ankle Sprains/Fractures?
Most often, ankle sprains/fractures are caused by a sudden sideways motion, a twist or a misstep. When your foot lands off balance the muscles may give way, allowing the ankle joint to move too far. If ligaments connecting the foot and ankle bones overstretch or tear, the result is a sprain. These sudden injuries cause pain both at the time they occur and throughout the healing process. Depending on the sprain, swelling and bruising may extend from your ankle into your foot. However, sprains can heal correctly with proper care. It is very important to treat sprains as soon as they occur. If left untreated, sprains may not heal properly, and may make reinjures more likely.
Ankle Sprains/Fractures Treatment
Foot Centers of NC treats numerous cases of ankle sprains and fractures each year. Our podiatrists thoroughly examine your ankle and foot and determine if you have any damaged ligaments, inflamed tendons, and any displaced bones or joints. X-rays may also be taken to rule out a fracture. Depending on your injury, treatment may range from pain control to immobilization of the joint. If the sprain is severe or if a bone is damaged, surgery may be needed. For a mild to moderate sprain, a few days of home care will help speed up the healing process. A common home regimen is R I C E (which stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate). This is an easy way to remember your home care assignment to reduce pain and swelling. The treatment is as follows:
R: Rest the sprained ankle. Do not stand on it for at least a day or two.
I: Ice the sprain as often as possible. Apply ice to the injury for 20 minutes.Remove the ice pack and wait another 20 minutes. Then ice again. Protect your skin by placing a bandage or thin towel between the ice and your body.
C: Compress (wrap) the swollen ankle with an elastic bandage.
E: Elevate the sprained ankle above your heart level.
Your podiatrist may also prescribe a medication or suggest you use aspirin or ibuprofen to help relieve pain and swelling. If damage or pain is severe, your podiatrist may tape, splint or cast the sprain. Once immobilized, the torn tissues can rest and heal in the proper position. You may need to use crutches temporarily if your foot cannot support weight. In some cases, a sprain may completely tear a ligament or pull it away from the bone. This type of injury may require surgery. After surgery, your foot will be placed in a cast to ensure proper healing. Depending on the severity of the sprain, your ankle may hurt for a month or more. Once healing is underway, your podiatrist may suggest exercises to strengthen the ankle. If swelling results, ice and elevation can help control it. Talk with your doctor before starting to exercise your ankle. If your doctor agrees, you can increase flexibility by doing your ABCs. Use your foot to spell out the alphabet in the air. Later, you may want to try the following strength-building exercise: Sit on the ground with the injured ankle straight in front of you. Bend your other leg. Place an elastic band or tubing around the foot of the ankle you sprained. Slowly point and relax your toes. As you return to normal activities, your ankle may swell, especially after exercise or by the end of the day. You can control this late-stage swelling with ice and elevation. Raise your ankle above heart level and apply ice or a cold pack, such as a bag of frozen peas, to the swollen area. The best way to prevent reinjures is to give a sprain time to heal fully. Once you’re back on your feet, think before you move, choose the right shoe for the activity, and remember to wear any splints, braces or orthotics (custom-made shoe inserts) prescribed by your doctor. Give your ankle the support it needs.
Follow these tips to help prevent reinjures:
• Wear high-topped, lace-up shoes for extra stability.
• Choose shoes with cushioned insoles if you walk or run on road or pavement.
• Be careful walking and running on rough ground to avoid tripping.
• Vary the direction of your route to avoid overusing your muscles. Also stretch both before and after you exercise.