Ask Your Doctor: ANKLE SPRAIN

By anguillian November 13, 2017 09:56 Updated




Most of us have experienced some injury to our ankles at some time in our lives. Ankle sprain is one of the most common ankle injuries, often resulting in some pain and discomfort. Although ankle sprains are common, they are not always minor injuries.

What is ankle sprain?
A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together.
Ligaments help stabilize joints – preventing excessive movement. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.

Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe – depending on how badly the ligament is damaged and how many ligaments are injured.

What causes ankle sprain?
Most types of ankle sprain happen when you make a rapid, shifting movement with your foot planted – such as when you play football or get tackled in a football match. Often the ankle rolls outward, and the foot turns inward. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and tear. Less often, the ankle rolls inward, and the foot turns outward. This damages the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.

How do you know you have an ankle sprain?
The symptoms and signs of an ankle sprain will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Signs and symptoms may include the following:
• Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
• Tenderness when you touch the ankle
• Swelling
• Bruising
• Restricted range of motion
• Instability in the ankle
• Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, in many cases first use the RICE approach in treating ankle sprains:
• Rest. You may need to use crutches until you can walk without pain.
• Ice. For at least the first 24 to 72 hours, or until the swelling goes down, apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two during the day. Always keep a thin cloth between the ice and your skin, and press the ice pack firmly against all the curves of the affected area.
• Compression. An elastic compression wrap, such as an ACE bandage, will help reduce swelling. You wear it for the first 24 to 36 hours. Compression wraps do not offer protection, so you also need a brace to protect your ankle if you try to put weight on it.
• Elevation. Raise your ankle above the level of your heart for 2 to 3 hours a day if possible. This helps to reduce swelling and bruising.

Your health provider might prescribe pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling.

Proper treatment and rehabilitation (rehab) exercises are very important for ankle sprains. If an ankle sprain does not heal right, the joint may become unstable and may develop chronic pain. If your ankle is still unstable after rehab, or if the ligament damage is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the torn ligaments.
Driving after an ankle sprain
If you have sprained your ankle, avoid driving until strength and mobility have returned.
The length of time you are unable to drive will depend on the severity of the sprain and how quickly it recovers. Your family doctor or physiotherapist can give you more advice.

Preventing ankle sprains
Individuals are encouraged to always take measures to prevent ankle sprains. The following might prove beneficial:
• wear the correct footwear for the activity you are doing
• warm up properly before exercise
• stretch or “warm down” after exercise
• do regular strengthening and flexibility exercises

Ankle sprains are relatively common injuries. Fortunately, not all sprains are severe injuries and many can be treated at home. Some ankle sprains can be very severe – resulting in severe symptoms sometimes requiring a series of investigations and specialist care. All of us should always take steps to prevent ankle sprains, especially those of us who are at risk of ankle injuries.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

By anguillian November 13, 2017 09:56 Updated


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