Ankle Injuries

How To Care For an Ankle Sprain

NIKKI PRIESTLEY
Oct 15, 2020

What is an Ankle sprain and the management?

A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward position. This can stretch or tear the bands of ligament that help hold your ankle bones together. It is something that can affect more or less anyone at any age. More often than not, it’s simply a matter of landing on your foot funny and having some temporary pain, but sometimes the injury can be more substantial and the pain can last longer. Given the fact that our ankles are used in almost all of our daily activities, this can be quite an inconvenience. Properly caring for a sprained ankle can help reduce pain, recovery time, and the chance of further complications down the line.

The Anatomy of the Ankle Joint & Types of Sprains

The first thing you should do is identify which of the two types of sprains you have sustained. An inversion sprain is where you twist your foot in such a way that you land on the baby toe. This usually leads to pain in the outside part of the foot, as well as to the lateral ankle ligaments. 90% of ankle sprains are inverted.

The other type of sprain is known as an eversion sprain, which is when the foot lands in such a way that all your weight is placed on the inner side of the foot, which can damage up to three separate ligaments. Eversion sprains are far less common than inversion sprains, and only comprise of about 10% of total ankle sprains.

Click here to learn more about your Ankle Anatomy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPLdoFQlZXQ&t=5s

The Degree Of Injury

Sprained ankles can be classified as either grade one, two, or three. The grade is decided by looking at how many ligaments have been injured in the sprain. Grade one is the least serious degree of injury and is the easiest to care for. A patient should approach a grade one sprain with the R.I.C.E. guidelines. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

  1. Rest: As you would expect, the first step in treating a sprained ankle is to let it rest. Take the weight off it, try not to move it too much, and consider crutches if the pain is bad enough. Listen to your body  and do not resume your normal activities if they are painful, as this will only make things worse.
  2. Ice: The second step is to use ice or a cold pack on the affected area. Put some ice in a kitchen towel and place it on the foot for about 20 minutes. Do not place the ice directly onto your skin, and do not exceed 20 minutes at a time. This will help reduce swelling.
  3. Compression: The third step is to compress the area. Using something like an ankle brace can help with swelling, pain, and recovery time by both constricting movement and offering support to the injured area. Compression is not always necessary in treating a grade one sprained ankle, but it will make recovery easier and faster.
  4. Elevation: The final step of the R.I.C.E. guidelines is to elevate the foot, preferably to above-heart level. The best way to do this is by lying down on a couch or bed with the foot resting on the armrest or footboard.

For a grade two sprain, the care regimen will be more or less the same as it would be for a grade one, although it will take more time. Compression is a much more important factor in a grade two sprain than it is in a grade one, and sometimes your doctor may immobilise the area in some way to ensure that the process goes as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Grade 3 is the most serious type of ankle sprain, and means you could face permanent ankle problems if the injury is not properly treated. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may have a cast applied and sometimes surgery may be necessary for athletes.

Prevention of ankle sprain can be done via these steps:

  • Consider what shoes to wear during sport activities, in relation to the type of sport and surface
  • Practice foot and ankle functions .
  • Practice balance, muscle strength, ankle/foot motion and mobility (walking, stairs, running).
  • Look for a symmetric walk pattern.
  • Work on dynamic stability as soon as load -bearing capacity allows, focusing on balance and coordination exercises. Gradually progress the loading, from static to dynamic exercises, from partially loaded to fully loaded exercises and from simple to functional multi-tasking exercises. Alternate cycled with non-cycled exercises (abrupt, irregular exercises). Use different types of surfaces to increase the level of difficulty.
  • Encourage the patient to continue practicing the functional activities at home with precise instructions regarding the expectations for each exercise.
  • Taping/bracing
  • Advise wearing tape or a brace during physical activities until the patient is able to confidently perform static and dynamic balance and motor coordination exercises

Please see our link below to some useful Exercises:

NIKKI PRIESTLEY
BSc (Hons) PgCert MCSP AACP
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