If you’ve sprained your ankle, you may think that you just need to walk it off or take it easy for a few days. But what you may not know is that, without proper treatment, your ankle could still be a problem after it heals. A sprain can weaken your ankle, which can make it easy to sprain again. How can you keep a sprained ankle from becoming chronically unstable? The professionals at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine can treat and help strengthen your ankle so that the sprain doesn’t become a lifelong problem.
What is a sprained ankle?
Ankles are important structures that attach your foot to the rest of your body. A healthy ankle supports your body weight while standing or moving.
When you turn or twist your ankle in a way that nature did not intend, you can tear or stretch ligaments that hold the bones of your ankle together. Ligaments are like rubber bands that run along the outer sides of your ankles. They keep your foot from flopping around and they stabilize the joints.
About 28,000 ankle injuries occur daily in the United States, according to the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. And about 50% of people who have a lateral ligament sprain — which is when the foot rolls inward and damages the ligaments on the outer ankle — never seek treatment.
That’s a bad move. Because when you sprain your ankle, you stretch or tear ligaments, which can destabilize your foot and make it vulnerable to more twists and sprains as well as ankle osteoarthritis. That’s why you should make an appointment with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine after even a mild sprain.
How to keep your sprained ankle from becoming chronically unstable
When you sprain your ankle, you should follow the RICE method immediately after. RICE stands for:
- Rest: You shouldn’t put weight on your injured ankle for at least 48 hours
- Ice: Apply ice to reduce swelling for the first 48 hours or until swelling subsides
- Compression: Wrap your ankle with an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling
- Elevation: Elevate your ankle above your heart to limit swelling
Your secondary actions should include making an appointment with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine so you can get a thorough examination and treatment.
For your initial examination, your provider will gently feel around your ankle to find out which ligaments and bones may have been injured. Your provider may also gently move your ankle to check your range of motion.
Sometimes, pictures of the injury are required, and your provider may recommend that you get X-rays, an MRI scan, or an ultrasound scan.
For most sprains, a simple cast or compression bandage will be enough to help your injury heal. Sometimes, though, surgery may be required along with rehabilitation therapy.
Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine wants you to live an active and healthy life. If you’ve injured your ankle, book an appointment over the phone today.