How to Manage a Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains can occur for a number of reasons, and they’re a very common injury. Those who play sport or are very active are likely to experience a sprained ankle at one point in their life. Common causes of a sprained ankle include:
Falling and twisting or rolling your ankle
Landing awkwardly while jumping or turning
Walking or running on uneven surfaces
Someone landing on your ankle during sport

An ankle is considered sprained when the ligaments holding your ankle joint together becomes torn or over-stretched.

Symptoms of a sprained ankle

The most common symptom of a sprained ankle is pain when you put weight on it. However, some other common symptoms include:
Visible bruising
A pop or cracking sound at the time of injury
Restricted ankle movement

Fortunately, there are plenty of treatments for a sprained ankle.

Types of sprained ankle treatment

The best thing you can do for a sprained ankle is to act quickly. The most effective way to deal with it is the RICE method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Rest: Stop putting weight on the affected foot immediately. The less walking you do, the faster your recovery will be. If you need to move around a lot, you should consider using crutches.

Ice: Using any form of ice or frozen food is the next step. Apply ice to the affected area, but always wrap it in a damp towel. You should never apply ice directly to the skin. Ice should be used for around 15-20 minutes every hour or two.

Compression: Next, bandage the ankle firmly, but not too tight. If you wrap the ankle too tightly, it can constrict blood flow which is dangerous and can impact recovery time. The ankle should be wrapped from the toes all the way up to above the ankle. The idea is to restrict movement without restricting blood flow.

Elevation: When you’re sitting, try to keep the foot elevated so your ankle is above the heart. A pillow or two under your foot while you sleep is a great way to maintain elevation.

While recovering, try to avoid things that increase blood flow to the area. This can increase swelling. So, heat, alcohol and massage should be avoided in the early stages of recovery.

What is the estimated sprained ankle recovery time?

The recovery time varies from person to person, however generally if you manage the injury well, you can recover from anywhere between 1 and 6 weeks. Being smart about your recovery is crucial, because re-injury can occur if you don’t allow the ligaments time to heal properly. Generally, if you see no improvement after a week, it’s worth visiting your doctor or physiotherapist.

Ankle strengthening exercises

Once your swelling has gone down, usually after about 2-3 days, you can start doing some light ankle strengthening exercises. These are great for recovery, but also for strengthening the ankle against re-injury. Here are some basic exercises you can do regularly throughout the day.

Ankle rotation: Move your ankle around in different directions, such as up and down, left and right and in a circular motion. The idea is to create a full range of movement.

Wall stretches: Face the wall and stand with your injured leg stretched out behind you. Keep the heel firmly on the floor, and push against the wall with your hands. Try to hold for 10 seconds, with both a straight knee and a bent knee.

Step exercises: Stand with your toes on a step and your heel hanging over the edge. Lower your heel and hold for 5 seconds. Then try standing on your toes for 5 seconds, and repeat the process.

Burleigh Central Physiotherapy is here to help with all ankle sprain injuries, so if you feel like you need some additional help in your recovery, contact our friendly team today and make an appointment.

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