You are hiking through the woods on a beautiful summer morning, watching for birds instead of looking where you are going, and you twist your ankle on a tree root. You sit at a Saturday morning soccer game and wince as your child trips on the ball and rolls his or her ankle over. You go out to dinner and dancing in your stylish 4-inch heels and get carried away, and the next thing you know, your partner has to practically carry you off the floor. An ankle sprain can happen in a few seconds, but may take a long time to get better. Follow these care guidelines so your ankle can heal completely and properly, or it could be more susceptible to injury again.
A Little TLC for Your Sprained Ankle
A sprain happens when the ligaments holding your ankle in place are pulled farther than they can handle. The injury usually involves the ones on the outside of your joint. When they are stretched, your ankle can be unstable, and if they are torn at all, it can be very painful. These bands of tissue need time to heal back to their original length and strength, and that means time off your feet.
Start by immediately resting it. If the sprain is mild and the joint is still stable, keep weight off and don’t walk on it. Use ice to relieve pain, a stretch bandage to compress and stabilize the joint, and elevation above your heart level to prevent swelling. If the pain isn’t better in a day or two, make sure you come in to let Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., look at it.
Ankle Sprain Treatments
If your sprain is more severe, don’t wait to come and see us. Schedule an appointment right away. We can diagnose how much damage there is, check for possible fractures, and recommend proper treatment. This can include any medications we may advise such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen, which are usually adequate to control your pain. Very severe sprains may need a brace, cast, or crutches to keep the joint immobile, protect it from further injury, and to keep all weight off your foot. If the ligament is severely torn, you may need surgery to repair it.
Once the swelling has gone down and the pain has receded, we can start you on physical therapy. Proper exercise will help strengthen your muscles, keep the joint flexible, maintain range of motion, and aid in balance. The ankle is a complex joint and it is important that all your muscles and ligaments return to their pre-injury condition, so they can work together again as fully as possible. If they remain weak, you risk another sprain, and repetitive injuries can mean ankle instability, arthritis, and chronic pain later in life.
Waiting It Out
For most people, being patient while healing from an ankle sprain is a challenge. You may dislike the limitations and be tempted to get back to your routine too quickly, but you shouldn’t return to the game until you are fully healed. Try other activities like swimming or biking to keep in shape until we feel it is safe for you to resume playing. Even then, start gradually and ease into your full activities a little at a time. Nothing is more demoralizing than trying too much too soon and sustaining another injury that keeps you out even longer.
Don’t wait when it comes to your foot health, however. When you are injured, or at the first sign of other foot problems, give Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., a call in Massapequa, NY, at (516) 804-9038 or request an appointment on our website. Our expert staff provides superior care in the Lindenhurst, Massapequa Park, Farmingdale, and Bethpage area. We look forward to helping your feet to the best condition possible!
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