Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries. A sprain is caused by straining or tearing the ligaments that support the ankle. Sprains occur mostly in the ATF ligament (anterior talus ligament) because it runs along the outside of the ankle. The outer ligament is not as strong as the inner one. Through physical force, gravity, and body weight, we stretch ligaments beyond normal capacity. This leads to tearing of the ligament and surrounding small blood vessels. A sprain is like an overstretched rubber band, tearing the surface and making the ligament unstable.
Check your ankles
Remember the time of the injury. You need to remember what happened during the injury. This can be a bit difficult, especially when you’re in severe pain. However, the experience or feeling at the time of the trauma may be reminiscent of you.
How fast do you move? If you are moving at high speeds (eg skiing or running fast), you are at risk of breaking a bone and need professional medical attention. Injuries from low-speed movement (eg, shaking the ankle while jogging or walking) are likely to be sprains that can heal on their own with proper care.
Can you feel the ligament tearing? In many sprains, you will feel the ligament tearing.
Is there a crackling sound? Ankles may crack if sprained or broken.
Watch for signs of swelling. If sprained, the ankle will become swollen, usually immediately. You should check both ankles to see if the ankles are swollen. Swelling and pain are often present in the case of an ankle sprain or fracture.
A deformed foot or ankle and severe pain are often signs of an ankle fracture. In that case, you need to use crutches and see a doctor immediately.
Watch for signs of bruising. Sprains often cause bruising. Check the ankle for signs of skin discoloration due to bruising.
Check for pain. Ankle sprains are often painful. You can touch the site of the injury with your finger to see if it hurts.
Place moderate weight on the ankle. You can try standing up and gently placing some of your weight on the injured ankle. If it hurts, it could be a sign of a sprain or broken ankle. Use crutches and see a doctor immediately.
Feel the “wobble” in the ankle. Sprained ankles are often loose and unstable.
In the case of a severe sprain, you may not be able to put your weight on your ankle or be able to stand. Putting weight on the ankle or standing up can be painful. Therefore, you should use crutches and see a doctor immediately.
Determine the degree of sprain
Recognizing Grade 1 Sprains. Ankle sprains have 3 levels. Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. The least severe is a grade 1 sprain.
This is a small tear that does not affect standing or walking. Although it is a bit inconvenient, you can still use the ankle as usual.
A first-degree sprain can cause minor swelling and mild pain.
In the case of a first-degree sprain, the swelling usually goes away after a few days.
Grade 1 sprains can go away with self-care.
Identify a Grade 2 Sprain. A Grade 2 Sprain is a moderate injury. This is a condition in which a ligament or multiple ligaments are significantly torn but not too large.
With a 2nd degree sprain, you won’t be able to use your ankle as you normally would and have difficulty putting weight on the ankle.
You will notice moderate pain, swelling, and bruising.
The ankle will be slightly loose and look pulled forward.
For a grade 2 sprain, you need medical attention and use crutches and an ankle protector for a while to be able to walk.
Recognizing a Grade 3 Sprain. A Grade 3 Sprain is a complete tear of the ligament and complete loss of structure.
With a grade 3 sprain, you won’t be able to put weight on your ankle and won’t be able to stand without help.
Swelling and pain become severe.
There will be significant swelling around the fibula (more than 4 cm).
Medical tests may reveal a marked deformity of the foot and ankle or a fracture of the fibula just below the knee.
A grade 3 sprain requires immediate medical attention.
Know the signs of a fracture. Fractures are injuries to the bones, especially common in healthy people with ankle injuries caused by high-speed movement, and minor injuries from falls in the elderly. Symptoms often resemble a grade 3 eye sprain. Fractures require x-rays and professional treatment.
A broken ankle is very painful and unstable.
Minor fractures have sprain-like symptoms, but only a medical professional can diagnose or screen them through X-rays.
Cracking sounds at the time of injury may be evidence of an ankle fracture.
A marked deformity of the foot or ankle, such as the foot in an unusual position or angle, is a sure sign of an ankle fracture or dislocation.
Treatment of ankle sprains
Go to the doctor. Regardless of the severity of the sprain, it’s best to see your doctor to find the best treatment if the swelling and pain persists for more than a week.
If you notice signs of a 2nd or 3rd degree fracture and/or sprain, you should see your doctor right away. In other words, you should see your doctor if you can’t walk (or have trouble walking), feel numb in your ankle, severe pain, or hear a crackling sound at the time of your injury. You will need professional X-rays and tests to determine treatment.
Mild sprains may go away with self-care. However, a sprain that doesn’t heal completely can lead to swelling, lasting pain. Even if it’s only a first-degree sprain, you should see your doctor for advice.
Let your ankles rest. While you wait to see your doctor, you can take care of yourself at home with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). This is an acronym for four therapeutic actions. For grade 1 sprains, you may only need RICE treatment. The first step is to rest the ankle.
Avoid ankle movements and immobilize the ankle if possible.
If cardboard is available, you can design a temporary splint to protect the leg from further injury. Try to splint the ankle so that the ankle stays in place.
Apply ice. Applying ice to the ankle can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Find a cold compress on the ankle as soon as possible.
Place ice cubes in the bag and gently apply to the joint. Cover with a towel to avoid the risk of freezing the skin.
A bag of frozen beans can be applied to the ankle.
Apply an ankle compress every 15-20 minutes, every 2-3 hours. Continue applying for 48 hours.
Ankle brace. For grade 1 sprains, an ankle brace with an elastic bandage can help immobilize and reduce the risk of further injury.
Wrap the bandage around the ankle in “figure 8”.
Do not wrap too tightly to avoid further swelling of the ankle. Wrap the bandage so that a finger can be inserted between the bandage and the skin.
If you suspect a grade 2 or 3 sprain, you should see your doctor for advice before splinting.
Elevate the foot. Raise your legs above your heart. Place your feet on two pillows. This reduces blood circulation to the feet and helps reduce swelling.
Elevating your legs in conjunction with gravity helps reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Take medicines. To control swelling and pain, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include Ibuprofen (brand names Motrin, Advil), Naproxen (trade name Aleve), and Aspirin. Acetaminophen (also known as Paracetamol or trade name Tylenol) is not an NSAID and does not help control inflammation but can provide pain relief.
Take the medication as directed on the package and do not take an NSAID for pain relief for more than 10-14 days.
Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age to avoid the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
For severe pain and/or grade 2 or 3 weight loss, your doctor may prescribe Narcotic to take for the first 48 hours.
Use a walking aid or immobilize the ankle. Your doctor may recommend medical equipment to help you get around and/or immobilize your ankle. For example:
You may need crutches, a cane, or a support leg. You can rely on your balance to choose the safest tool.
Depending on the extent of the injury, your doctor may recommend a bandage or an ankle brace to immobilize the ankle. In severe cases, an orthopedic surgeon may place the ankle in a fixative.