Treatment for Ankle Sprains and Strains

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Treatment for Ankle Sprains and Strains

Ankle sprains and strains are among the most common foot injuries a person experiences in their lifetime. Athletes are more susceptible to ankle sprains and strains, as they are frequent sport injuries.

Treatment for Ankle Sprains and Strains
Sprain and Strain

It is not unusual to twist the foot while dodging the opposition in rugby, sprinting across the basketball court, or reaching for a challenging save during a volleyball match. Strains and sprains can occur unexpectedly on a regular day, while you are walking down the hallway in your heels, or bending on your knees to retrieve something from under the bed. Sometimes, one misstep or exaggerated stretch is all it takes to hurt the ankle.

Difference between Sprain and Strain

A sprain can be defined as the tearing or atypical stretching of a ligament, whereas a strain refers to the atypical stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. Common symptoms of a sprain/strain include pain, bruising, and swelling. Both sprains and strains can be the result of repetitive motion or a sole overuse injury (exerting oneself physically beyond capacity). Ankle sprains and strains are divided into 3 grades of injuries. A grade-1 sprain/strain will recover on its own within a matter of days, whereas a grade-3 sprain/strain may require medical attention and take over a month to heal.

The RICE Technique

Whenever you encounter an ankle sprain or strain, the first thing you should do is apply the RICE technique for pain relief.

Rest – the sprained or strained ankle should be rested to prevent further damage or agony to the affected area. You should avoid walking and standing on this ankle, as any amount of pressure exerted on it shall be excruciating. Minimize movement and relax the body to accelerate the natural healing process.

Ice – Ice cools down the affected area and constricts blood flow, which in turn helps to numb the pain.

Compress – Ice can be wrapped in a thick cloth to make a cold compress. Compressing the injured area reduces or prevents swelling caused by the sprain/strain. Do not compress too hard, as it may entirely cut off blood supply

Elevate – elevating the injured ankle enables fast recovery by directing flow of blood and fluid downwards towards the heart. You can elevate the foot by placing it over a firm and thick pillow or cushion.

The RICE method treatment is usually quite effective for grade-1 and grade-2 sprains/strains. Minor to mid-level foot injury pain can also be reduced or eliminated with the help of OTC painkillers or NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen.

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When to see a Doctor?

If the pain and swelling does not lessen or go away within a few days, or somehow gets worse, medical attention is probably necessary. The injury might be a grade-3 sprain/strain that involves complete breakage of a muscle or ligament. The doctor may conduct an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to determine the extent of injury. You may have to wear a cast and get instructions to bed rest for a few weeks. The doctor may recommend physiotherapy as well, in order to restore normal mobility of your ankle. If the personal injury is severe and does not respond to first line of treatment/rehabilitation, the doctor may follow up with an arthroscopic or reconstructive surgery to undo/fix the damage.

Author Bio

John Adams is a lifestyle blogger who concentrates on health, fitness, and self-development. He encourages readers to fight their fears and overcome obstacles holding them back. He believes that every person can improve the quality of his/her life by thinking positive and making better choices. He loves to share his insight on life experiences, and contributes on various online platforms in the same niche. 

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