Understanding Ankle Sprain Causes and Care

Ankle sprains don't just happen to athletesContrary to popular belief, ankle sprains are not limited to just athletes. Whereas those who regularly perform physical activity are certainly susceptible to this injury, ankles are essential for movement and anyone can, and likely will, sprain one at some point in their life. Knowing more about this ailment can help you understand how to prevent it and when to come to our Manalapan, NJ office for effective ankle sprain treatment.

Ankle Anatomy

One of the most valuable joints in your body, especially for mobility and independence, the ankle is constructed of bones and ligaments that enable you to move your foot. The three bones that form an ankle are the two lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula) and your talus.

The talus sits directly on top of your heel bone and where the two meet is known as the subtalar joint. This joint enables side-to-side movement of your foot. The tibia and fibula both rest upon the talus and form the true ankle joint. This functions to provide up and down movement for your foot. The bones are connected and held in their respective places by various ligaments.

When Sprains Happen

Sprained ankles usually happen when a foot that has been planted is then injured due to a sudden shifting movement. A common example seen in sports is when an athlete makes an abrupt change in direction and the grounded foot twists further than its intended range. Outside of athletics, this injury can happen when a misstep takes place on a step or curb. If half of the foot is over the edge and bodyweight pushes down upon it, the foot can roll inward while the ankle rolls outward, thereby causing ligaments in the joint to stretch excessively and potentially even tear.

At the time of a sprain, pain is often immediately experienced. Swelling usually begins right away and bruising might start developing as well. The injured ankle will likely be tender to touch and accompanied by increased pain when moved. If the sprain is particularly severe, it may be difficult to even place weight on the affected foot.

Treatment for Ankle Sprains

When it comes to ankle sprain treatment, the RICE method is the best place to start:

  • Rest – Your body begins its natural healing processes almost immediately, but needs time and rest for optimal recovery. Take some time away from physical activities and keep weight off the foot to prevent further damage from happening to the ligaments.
  • Ice – In order to alleviate swelling, promote circulation, and decrease your pain, ice the affected ankle every one or two hours. Apply an ice pack covered with a thin towel or cloth (to protect your skin) for 10-20 minutes at time. Follow this routine for the first 24 to 72 hours after the injury until swelling has subsided.
  • Compression – Another tool in promoting blood flow, which is necessary for your body’s internal healing processes, is the use of a compression wrap. This is especially beneficial during the first 24 to 36 hours, but keep in mind that it is not done for protection, but rather to encourage circulation.
  • Elevation – Decrease swelling and bruising in the affected area by keeping your ankle raised above the level of your heart for a couple of hours each day. The best practice is to lie down on your bed or couch with your foot propped up on a couple of pillows. This also can be done at night, so your ankle is elevated while you sleep.

Begin this regimen as soon as possible following your injury. At the very least, start with taking time away from any physical activity. Staying active, or returning to activities before the injury is healed properly, can potentially lead to long-term instability in the ankle. This will only make future injuries more likely and frequent.

Effective Ankle Sprain Treatment in Manalapan, NJ

If you have a difficult ankle sprain, or find that you have recurrent instances of this injury, contact A Step Up Podiatry, L.L.C., and make an appointment with Sanjay Gandhi, DPM. Call our office at (732) 446-7136 or use our online form today and get the treatment you need.