What is a Sprained ankle?
Sprained ankle is a medical condition where one or more of the ligaments (connecting tissues that connect one bone to another at a joint) of the ankle is fully or partially torn. It is a common injury when your foot stretches or twists beyond its natural limits leading to a tear of the supporting ligament.
Sprains can be prevented by taking proper precautions when playing a sport and eating healthily to ensure strong joints.
What are the causes for a Sprained ankle?
Sprains often occur during accidents when you fall awkwardly or collide with great impact or during sports activities when you overstretch. You are also at increased risk of getting sprains if you run over rough and uneven surface of the ground. You are more susceptible to sprains if you lack conditioning and do not exercise regularly. Poor adoption of proper technique and insufficient warm up can limit your range of movements and are more likely to cause a tear in your ligaments.
What are the symptoms of a Sprained ankle?
Common symptoms include bruising, pain, stiffness, and skin discolouration around the ankle. The body will naturally recruit white blood cells at that area causing inflammation and subsequent swelling. You may also experience redness around the affected area due to increased blood flow. Occasionally, you will have muscle spasms in which your muscles contract tightly, leading to a tingling sensation of pain and discomfort.
How is a Sprained ankle treated?
In most cases, sprains are managed at home alongside with over-the-counter painkillers. You can use the PRICE therapy as outlined. PROTECT the affected area using a support, i.e. wear a enclosed shoe, REST the affected joint or muscle and stop the activity causing the injury immediately. Next you should apply ICE wrapped in a towel every few hours and COMPRESS that area to avoid swelling. Be careful not to bandage it too tightly as this will restrict blood flow. Lastly, in order to help reduce swelling, ELEVATE the injured area. You should also avoid HARM for the first few days of your injury. Do not take hot baths or go to saunas to avoid exposure to HEAT. Bleeding may increase due to ALCOHOL consumption. Both RUNNING and MASSAGING should be avoided as they promote further damage or swelling.
It is usually recommended that you move your sprained ankles gently to speed up the healing process. However, cast may be used to immobilize sprains for the first few days if it is a more severe case, to reduce risk of further tearing.
Pain is usually managed using painkillers like paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. Your GP may also refer you to physiotherapist to advise and help restore your functional mobility. Recovery time depends on the severity of the sprains and can vary from weeks to months.
Rarely, surgery may be recommended for very severe cases and carry risks and complications.