Spraining your ankle badly can cause chronic ankle instability. Spraining an ankle is not an injury that you want to leave alone to heal itself. Proper care and treatment can help to prevent long term or permanent damage.
There are a variety of techniques you can use to treat the sprain and manage your injury. Treatments range from mild to invasive, depending on the nature of the sprain. Dr. Maurer and Dr. Vincent have been treating patients with ankle sprains for over 20 years at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine. They can explain more about preventing chronic joint instability after a severe ankle sprain.
Why ankle sprains are so destabilizing
Spraining your ankle is certainly painful and can create lower extremity trauma. Walking on a sprained ankle can lead to permanent instabiliy and may adversely affect your gait which can lead to other biomechanical problems.
How to prevent ankle sprains from getting worse
You can stop an ankle injury from getting worse if you follow some of the following steps:
The severity of your sprain
You may not have torn ligaments if your sprain is mild or moderate. If your sprain is severe, you may have swelling, bruising, or difficulty putting weight on your feet. We’ll definitely refer you for further treatment.
The RICE method
The basic treatment components of any foot or ankle injury include the RICE method. This includes the following:
- Rest: Resting your ankle requires you to put as little pressure as possible on your swollen, sprained joint.
- Ice: Putting an ice pack on your ankle can help to reduce the swelling. Do so for 15-20 minutes up to 3 times a day. You can use a bag of frozen vegetables if you prefer.
- Compression: Wearing a compression sock can prevent further swelling.
- Elevation: Elevation means putting up your foot. Sit and elevate your ankle above your heart if possible..
This prevents further injury to the joint but may not be enough to fully resolve the issue.
Wearing a brace or splint
Wearing a brace or a splint can help to stabilize your ankle while it heals. It can keep your ankle in a stable position, which prevents further damage from happening. Additionally, you may benefit from being non-weightbearing as your ankle heals in the brace.
Physical therapy is an essential tool that is utilized to help you regain your ankle strength. A good physical therapy program is designed to help you restore your range of motion and strength, making your ankle more stable.
We can try injecting your ankle with corticosteroid injections. This is best used as a short-term strategy, as corticosteroids have damaging health effects if used for too long. But it can significantly reduce your pain and swelling while your ankle heals.
You may need surgery when your ankle doesn’t respond well to any of the above measures. If necessary, surgery can repair a severely sprained ankle using metal pins, screws, or plates. We can also repair or replace the ligaments.
For the best plan of care for you and your ankle injury, you should get it checked out by a podiatrist. Contact Dr. Maurer and Dr. Vincent for an evaluation at their office in Kirkland, WA. If possible, we offer same day appointments so you can be better informed on how to care for your ankle and prevent long term problems.