Ankle sprains are highly common, especially in active individuals. However, if they are not treated correctly, they can lead to lingering health complaints. The injury occurs when a single or multiple ligaments are torn or stretched on the outer side of the ankle. Needless to say, the condition can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. Here are some easy tips that will help aid your recovery.
See a Doctor or Physician
When you first sprain your ankle, it’s crucial that you get an assessment of the affected area. Failing to do so could mean missing out on the right treatment for the sprain which may prolong the healing period. The medical professional will need to know how/when you injured yourself and may also wish to x-ray the area to check that it is a sprain and not a fracture or breakage.
There are three different levels of ankle sprain – grade I, grade II, and grade III – and which you have will depend entirely on how many ligaments are strained. Before you proceed with treatment and rehabilitation, you must find out which grade of a sprain you have had. Your physician will inform you of this and also advise on the best ways to deal with the injury and prevent further medical issues.
Follow the R.I.C.E Guidelines
Should you have a grade I or grade II sprain, you will need to follow some simple guidelines. The American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society suggest that you follow the R.I.C.E. routine to aid in recovery. Doing so is relatively simple, although you should alter the periods depending on how serious your injury is.
The first step here is to rest your ankle as much as possible. In short, you don’t want to put too much weight on the joint right away. To avoid further injury, you will need to get the best type of crutches for your size and stature. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether you can bear weight on your ankle or whether it will need to be elevated when you move around. Some people also find that using an orthopedic ankle brace helps with support too.
Swelling is a natural side effect of any sprain. Cold therapy is the easiest way to deal with this particular aspect of the injury. You can use ice or even a cold compress to help ease the pain and take down the swelling around the ankle. If you do intend to use ice, make sure that you don’t put it directly on the skin. Instead, you should wrap the ice in a cloth, tissue paper, or a plastic bag. Hold the ice on the swollen area for no more than 20 minutes at a time. You may also wish to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling.
Compressing your ankle with the use of material or bandage is simple and straightforward. It can even be done at home by yourself. Invest in one of the above from a local drugstore, and wrap it tightly around your ankle. The aim is to decrease swelling and also keep the area protected. Plus, you can slip an ankle brace over a compression bandage with absolute ease and the two will work together for the ultimate support.
When you’re at home, you will need to elevate your ankle as often as possible. The integral thing to remember here is that your leg needs to be lifted to a height above your heart. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by lying on the sofa with a cushion propped under your leg. Ensure that your chest is lower than your ankle at all times.
The above guidelines are only suitable for grade I or grade II strains. If your injury is more serious or a grade III strain, you should seek the advice of your doctor. In any case, a medical professional will be able to tell you how long you need to follow the above rules.
Start a Rehabilitation Routine
Rehabilitating your ankle is an essential part of the healing process. After a period of relaxation and following the R.I.C.E. guidelines, you should begin increasing the flexibility of your ankle. Much of the time, you will need to follow doctor-prescribed exercise routines which seek to strengthen the ligaments.
When you can stand on your affected foot again, you will need to continue with your rehabilitation routine. Your doctor may advise that you take some light exercise, such as walking or swimming during the period. It’s crucial that you follow their advice and avoid overexertion. Following this advice means that slowly but surely, your ankle will recover.