We certainly are wonderfully made, and this is abundantly clear when recognizing the intricacies of how our tendons and ligaments are formed around bone and joint for protection. However, this does not always serve to protect against ankle sprains, which may occur from simply stepping off a curb. Typically, strains or sprains often happen as a result of a fall, a sudden twist or rolling of the ankle or forcing the joint out of place.
For some, the realization of injury does not rise to awareness until an attempt to bear weight on the injured tarsus produces pain. To help clarify and offer the best method of response ankle injury, these will be discussed here with suggestions on how to best look out for the long term healing.
The Three Levels of Sprains
Ankle sprains are classified by the level of injury:
- A mild sprain results in the stretching of ligaments without injury to the ankle joint.
- A moderate sprain produces joint instability due to partial ligament tears
- A severe sprain is the result of the tearing of ligaments that may actually separate from the bone causing a loosening of the joint.
All sprains are associated with pain and swelling with bruising that may eventually appear.
The joint functions poorly when it is loose and unstable. The stretched ligaments are unable to provide the support they did before sustaining the trauma. We rely on our ankles to continue to perform well whether simply walking or making the demands of more prolonged, repetitive motion such as in sports or professional dancing. However, without the proper rest and care in spite of intensive training, chronic strains from the overuse of muscles and tendons sets the stage for repeated sprains that lead to further tendon injury from a loose ankle or worse, ankle arthritis.
In the immediacy of a sprain, the first best remedy is to follow the acronym RICE:
➔ R = Rest – Limiting the demands of use on the injured ankle may not be a choice, depending upon the level of pain. However, the absence or minimal degree of pain should not be perceived as the green light to march on.
➔ I = Ice – Inflammation is the body’s first response to trauma. To help reduce swelling and promote quicker healing, apply ice wrapped in a towel for about 20-minutes three or four times a day. Icing also reduces pain.
➔ C = Compression – A pressure bandage not only helps to limit swelling, it doubles for the work of the ligaments providing support as they heal. A durable mesh and elastic support such as the ProCare Double Strap Ankle Support uses a figure-eight closure for medial, lateral and arch support without being bulky.
➔ E = Elevation – Elevating the injured ankle above the heart reduces throbbing pain by reducing the amount of blood that rushes to the site of injury.
Performing all four techniques together helps the healing process tremendously. Using the elastic support wrap not only provides stability when moving, it controls edema whether resting or getting around. If more serious injury is suspected, it is best to consult a physician.
Reduce the risk of injury by adopting stretching exercises, warming up before activities and wearing proper gear. A muscle conditioning program is as much a help as a nutritious and balanced diet.