If you play a lot of sports, such as basketball that requires jumping, you are at risk of getting a sprained ankle. Sprains happen when you land on the side of your foot after you jump. This causes your ankle to twist. The twisting motion damages ligaments and possibly the tendons and bones in your ankle. That's why ankle exercises are so important when you are an athlete. Strong ankles are more stable and less prone to sprains. If you do get a sprain, you want to care for it properly or your ankle will be weak and at risk of further injury. Here is some information about ankle sprains that you may want to know.
Symptoms Of A Sprain
When you have a sprain, the ligaments in your ankle swell and bleed. The blood forms bruises that may turn your entire ankle purple. The swelling could be so bad, your ankle has an odd shape. You'll also have pain which is usually on the outside of your ankle. The pain might be so severe you can't bear weight on your foot. Your doctor or trainer can usually diagnose a sprain just by looking at your ankle. However, you may need an X-ray or MRI to rule out bone fractures or tendon tears if the sprain is a bad one.
Treatments For A Sprained Ankle
The primary treatments for a sprain are foot elevation and ice for swelling. You'll need to stay off your ankle for a few days to give it time to heal. Keep your foot elevated as much as possible. This means more than just propping your foot on an ottoman. Your foot needs to be higher than your heart to help decrease swelling, such as you get with a recliner in the fully open position. If you don't have a recliner, you may need to rest in bed with your foot propped up on a pile of pillows.
Ice helps with pain and swelling. You can apply an ice pack for several minutes at a time every few hours throughout the day. As the swelling goes down, your pain should decrease as well. You may not have much pain except for when you walk. If that's the case, your podiatrist may give you a special boot or brace to wear that helps you avoid putting pressure on your ankle when you walk. You might even need to use crutches or a knee walker until you can bear weight on your foot.
Recovery Time For Healing
The worst thing you can do is go back to playing sports too soon. In addition to waiting until the swelling and pain are gone, you may need to undergo physical therapy before you can start playing sports again. If your sprain is mild, you may be back in action in just a few days, but if you have a bad sprain, it may be weeks before you can resume your usual activities. Your ligaments must be fully healed or your ankle will be weak. The weakness puts you at risk for another sprain, and it also causes you to have chronic pain on the side of your ankle because of the ongoing injury to your ligaments.
If you play sports on a league and hate to miss out on games, then you may want to consult a foot and ankle specialist just to make sure you treat your injury properly and that it is healed fully before you return to playing sports. Even if you just play basketball with friends on the weekend, you don't want to play when you have ankle pain, or you could develop a condition like chronic lateral ankle pain that takes a long time to heal.