Don’t Ignore Ankle Sprains

I had an ankle sprain later last year, a lateral one, the common type. It was painful, swollen, and difficult to manoeuvre, and I wished the pain would just go. It was ironic, the podiatrist with the ankle sprain; I was constantly asked so how you treating with that. And it was often stated that it happened to the best person, something only a Trini would say and severe offence not taken. If only the 99 questions of how it happened, and how it was being treated could have actually healed it, and break the pain, one happy camper I would have been.

Being outdoors, whether that means tending to your yards and gardens, playing recreational sports, or spending time at the beach, is what a number of persons enjoy doing. However, it takes just one wrong step, to turn into a painful ankle sprain or fracture. Walking, running and playing on uneven surfaces, such as grassy lawns, beaches and hiking trails, leave us susceptible to ankle trauma. Lightweight, unsupportive footwear, such as sandals or flip-flops, make it even more difficult for us to regain balance on uneven surfaces.

Sprains versus Fractures

Sprains are one of the most common ankle injuries, but how can we tell if ankle pain is a sprain or a fracture? An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments in the ankle. These ligaments are like rubber bands that stabilize the ankle, and limit its side-to-side motion. When these ligaments are stretched or torn, which can happen, for example, when the ankle is suddenly twisted, a sprain results. A fracture can also occur when the foot is rolled under, and the ankle is twisted. In this case, one or more bones may break or the ligament may pull off a piece of bone when it tears.

When you have an ankle sprain, rehabilitation is crucial, and it starts the moment your treatment begins. Treatment of ankle fractures depends on the type and severity of the injury. If you suffer from an ankle injury, follow the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol, and contact your podiatrist for a proper evaluation or seek care.

Every day persons sprain their ankles. Some of these sprains are minor, others are mild, and some are severe. Whatever type of ankle sprain you suffer demands attention and appropriate care; but too often people try to push through their discomfort, or simply ignore it and get on with their day. If you don’t take time and allow your ankle to heal, you can be susceptible to other injuries.

Additional Injuries That Can Result From An Initial Ankle Sprain

Here are 5 additional injuries that can result from ignoring your initial ankle sprain:

  1. Knee Injuries– If you are hobbled by ankle pain, your body may naturally try to compensate for that discomfort by altering your stride, putting more stress on your non-injured leg. This extra wear and tear on your knee, can lead to ligament or cartilage damage.
  2. Hip Injuries– Similar to knee injuries, unaddressed ankle pain can alter your stride and displace pressure to your hips. Your hip joint has a mechanical rhythm when walking, but if that rhythm is thrown off, or extra weight is placed on one of the joints, you can develop regionalised hip pain.
  3. Falls– Older individuals are already at heightened risk for falls, but when you add a sprained ankle in the mix, you can have a recipe for disaster. Sprained ankles weaken the ligaments that help support the ankle, so you need to let them heal through rest and physical therapy. Strengthening them decreases the risk for a fall.
  4. Back Problems– Back problems, like a couple other issues on this list, stem from an altered gait due to an ankle sprain. If you are shifting your weight to compensate for an ankle injury, your spine and the many surrounding structures will have to bear more stress. Spinal components can shift, causing injuries like pinched nerves, or disc issues.
  5. Another Sprain– Unaddressed ankle injuries can lead to what is known as ankle instability, which means the ligaments in your ankle aren’t offering your foot the necessary support. This leaves you susceptible to future sprains. If you find that your ankles seem to roll easily or often, there’s a chance a past ankle injury has damaged your ligaments. You should then consider adding some targeted physical therapy to your exercise routine, or set up a consultation with a podiatrist or orthopaedic specialist as the case may be.
5 Steps for Dealing with Your Sprain

If you or a family member suffers a sprained ankle, follow these steps:

  1. Stay off of it – Walking with a sprain or fracture can cause further damage.
  2. Ice it – Make an icepack by wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables in a lightweight towel. Do not apply the icepack for more than 20 minutes each hour.
  3. Wrap it – A loosely applied elastic bandage can help stabilise the ankle and reduce swelling.
  4. Elevate it – Lie with the leg on a pillow, so that the ankle is above heart level. This will help with pain and swelling.
  5. Seek Professional Care – Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important to a successful recovery, so check the relevant medical provider.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!


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