Ho Jiaying, Senior Physiotherapist at Singapore General Hospital shares the symptoms and treatments available for sprained ankles.
All you need to know about treating a sprained ankle
A sprained ankle is a very common injury. It does not just happen in athletes. Most people will sprain their ankle at some point in their lives.
The ankle consists of many structures similar to elastic bands that help to hold the ankle bones together. These structures, known as ligaments, provide stability to the ankle. When an ankle is twisted into an awkward position, these ligaments get overstretched and may even tear under excessive force.
The most common type of sprained ankle is when the foot rolls inward and overstretch the outer ankle ligaments. A sprained ankle will lead to swelling, redness, bruising and pain at the sprain site. In severe cases, some people hear a popping sound or feel a tear in their ankle.
How do I treat a sprained ankle?
The RICE method should be carried out immediately to aid in the rapid healing of a sprained ankle:
- Rest your ankle. Do not put too much weight on it. Do use a crutch when necessary to reduce the load on your ankle when walking.
- Icing your ankle is very important, especially during the first 48 to 72 hours. Every 2 hours, apply an ice pack for about 20 minutes onto the swollen and painful area. Always place a cloth between the ice pack and your skin to protect yourself from frostbite. The ice pack will help with the pain, swelling and bruising.
- Compression of your ankle with an elastic bandage will help reduce the swelling. Do keep the bandage on until the ankle swelling subsides. Make sure that the bandage is not too tight, cutting off your blood circulation.
- Elevation of your ankle above the heart level will help with a swollen ankle.
When the ankle swelling has subsided for the most part, it is normal for your ankle to feel stiff. You can start with some simple gentle exercises (which shouldn’t cause pain) to regain ankle flexibility. A typical exercise could be moving your ankle to write the alphabet with your toes. Remember not to overstretch your ankle as it may result in further injury.
Read on to find out how to avoid ankle fractures, when to visit a doctor, and more.