Ankle sprains are a very common ailment, particularly of women who have the habit of wearing high heels. Ankle sprains refer to the condition in which one of the ligaments in the ankle is injured. A history of ankle sprains will eventually make an individual prone to ankle sprains. Landing the foot at an angle, or applying too much pressure on the ankle, are the most common causes of ligament injury. Walking or running on uneven, rough surfaces can also lead to a sprained ankle. Ill-fitting shoes and footwear that does not provide adequate support is another reason for injury in the ankle.
Ways to heal a sprained ankle include:
- Using protective ankle supports, like braces, within the first two days of the injury - These braces can be used, along with compression wraps or bandages, for additional support.
- Getting adequate rest for the ankle - If walking becomes painful, crutches would be of help. Try to avoid activities that would increase swelling and pain in the ankle.
- Applying ice pack in the ankle to reduce swelling - Ice packs should be used for 10 to 20 minutes once every two hours.
- Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - These drugs are used to reduce pain in the injured ankle.
- Using compression wrap during the first two days of sprain - Compression wraps are used to reduce swelling and pain. Remember to apply the bandage loosely to avoid tingling, numbness, and swelling. Wearing lace-up shoes and high-tops are both helpful to reduce swelling.
- Keeping the leg raised for about two to three hours per day - Raising one's leg will bring down swelling and reduce bruising of the ankle. The ankle should ideally be placed above the level of one's heart, for easy healing.
- Practicing stretch exercises as per the recommendation of the doctor - Physical therapy may be used to build strength and flexibility.
In most cases, the injured ankle heals on its own. Even in cases where the ligament is completely torn, healing will happen naturally without any specific treatment. In some rare cases of ankle sprains, surgery may be required. If ankle sprains are recurrent, conservative therapy is suggested. Too much strain before complete recovery might result in severe pain and potential disability.
Sprain can be prevented by:
- Stretching before the usual exercise regimen or any other physical activity.
- Stopping activity that causes ankle pain.
- Avoiding running or jumping on uneven surfaces.
- Wearing footwear that fits.