Ankle injuries are among some of the most nefarious obstacles any athlete or physically active person can face. They sideline your training, force you to the bench, make you sit on the couch instead of doing what you love and, if it wasn’t bad enough already, ankle sprains are one of the most difficult injuries to recover from. But do not despair, not all hope is lost. With a few key steps and some attention to your body, getting back to 100 per cent after an ankle injury is possible. Here are a few guidelines on how to treat an ankle sprain .
One of the most frustrating parts of recovering from an ankle sprain is staying off of the injured area. Your ankle supports much of your weight when running, walking or even just standing. Taking a load off means limited mobility and a lack of activity. One of the best pieces of advice on how to treat an ankle sprain is to stay off your ankle by using crutches. It may take you a while to get to used to the walking aids, but the time spent tangling with crutches will be nothing compared to the drawn out recovery time that would result in putting too much stress on your injured ankle too soon. Ask your health care professional about crutches, how to use them, and other walking aids that will save your painful ankle from overexertion.
Compression and Support
Crutches will take the pressure off of your ankle, but a sprained muscle needs a little more than some time off to heal properly and quickly; it also needs some special love and care. Compression and support equipment will help the sprained ankle from jolting around and ruining the healing process. Ankle braces or wraps are usually the go-to gear that offers compression or support. These devices will help decrease swelling in your ankle, especially during the first 24 to 36 hours after you have sprained it. Braces should also be worn if attempting to bear weight on your injured ankle. Your doctor may also prescribe a walking boot or even a cast, depending on the severity of the sprain.
Ice and Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Reducing swelling is a critical step to helping a sprained ankle heal and mitigating the pain from an injury. Applying ice at regular intervals for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, or until swelling goes down, is important. Apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes every one to two hours during the day. Use a thin piece of cloth or towel to wrap the ice in so you do not put ice directly on the skin. Avoid keeping the ice on the skin for more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid negative reactions. Anti-inflammatory medications also help reduce swelling. These medications will also help reduce pain. Consult your doctor before taking any medication; they will be able to suggest the best medication for you.
As with any injury, taking some time off from your normal activities is recommended. Physical activity or sports will likely only exacerbate the injury, especially a sprained ankle as the ankle is a critical part of motion, balance and agility in most exercises. There will be a time during the recovery process where you need to get back at it and strengthen the sprained muscle, but when the sprain has just occurred, it’s wise to rest and relax. Limit weight bearing and if you must move around and put some pressure on the ankle, use aids, such as crutches, braces or compression wraps.
Once your sprained ankle has gone through the first phase of recovery (or the pain it nagging for a prolonged period of time), it’s time to start rehabbing it and gaining strength. Visiting a physiotherapist is the best place to start. They will know the health of your ankle and how to treat an ankle sprain by getting it from weak to fully functioning once again. Physiotherapy will help you restore your ankle’s flexibility and range of motion. They will help you gradually return to activity that utilizes your ankle as well. Once you can stand on your ankle again, your physiotherapist will prescribe exercise routines to strengthen your muscles and ligaments. It’s crucial to complete the rehabilitation program because it makes it less likely that you’ll hurt the same ankle again.