Ankle injuries are not just associated with sports. You don’t have to be a sportsperson or weekend warrior to sprain your ankle. Sometimes, walking on bumpy or uneven ground can cause a debilitating painful sprain. Anyone can sprain or injure their ankle at any age. Males around 15 – 24 have high ankle sprain rates in comparison to women aged over 30 years.
Ankle injuries types
Ankle injuries are defined by the type of bone, tissue, tendon, and ligament that is damaged. A sprain describes the injury to ligaments while stretching beyond their normal motion range. The ligament strain can range from a complete rupture to microscopic tears. A fracture is a break in one or several bones.
Tendon and muscle strains are common in the lower back and legs. Overuse of tendon causes Achilles tendonitis. The podiatrist Irvine clinic helps to identify the severity of ankle injury or sprain and recommends treatment.
Causes of an ankle injury
When the ankle joint gets twisted far away from its normal position, an ankle injury happens.
The causes of ankle injury are several –
- Tripping and falling
- Awkwardly landing after a jump
- Running or walking on uneven surface forces the ankle and foot into an unnatural position.
- High-heel shoes can rotate or twist the ankle.
- Lose-fitting sandals can contribute to ankle twists.
Signs of ankle injuries
Ankle sprain or fracture, the symptoms are the same. Fractures are at times mistaken for strains. So, it is crucial to have the ankle injury diagnosed by a podiatrist as soon as you can.
The symptoms are –
- Sudden & severe pain
- Inability to walk because of stiff ankle
- Not able to bear weight on an injured joint
If there is a fracture then the area is sore to the touch and the ankle can look deformed. In the case of mild sprain the pain can be slight and vice versa. When the tear is acute there will be instability or weakness of the ankle and foot. In the case of, tendinitis it can take years to develop.
The symptoms are –
- Sporadic pain on the ankle’s outside.
- Ankle instability
- Increase in the altitude of the foot’s arch
What to do after an ankle injury?
Self-treatment for an ankle injury makes the problem worse. It is sensible to visit the Irvine Podiatrist for proper ankle injury treatment. A podiatrist is specialized in foot and ankle care, so they can diagnose and treat them based on severity level.
An X-ray is recommended to determine if there are any broken bones. If they suspect stress fracture then an MRI will be recommended. In general, pain is controlled using OTC drugs or NSAIDs. The treatment specifics will depend on injury type.
Mild sprains are treated using the RICE approach for some days until swelling and pain are improved. Mild sprain there will be no need for a cast or splint. The podiatrist will advise you to place weight on the ankle within 3 days. They will prescribe an array of motions like strengthening and stretching workouts.
A moderate sprain will use the RICE approach, while the healing will take some time to occur. The podiatrist will advise you to use a device like a splint or boot to immobilize the injured ankle. Exercises are recommended to enhance their motion range including stretching and strengthening the ankle. Physical therapy is prescribed to assist you to regain full ankle use.
A severe sprain involves total ligament rupture or tear. It takes significantly longer to heal. Joint immobilization is followed by a long period of physical therapy sessions for flexibility and building strength and stretching. If you don’t recover from the sprain within a reasonable time then surgery is considered to reconstruct torn ligaments.
What is the RICE approach?
As soon as you are hurt, and in pain stop activity and rest for a couple of days. Avoid putting weight or pressure on the injured ankle for a couple of days. Rest helps in avoiding further bruising.
Apply an ice pack wrapped in a napkin to help prevent frostbite. Apply for 15 minutes every 2-3 hours to reduce pain and swelling.
Wrap the affected area with a medical bandage but don’t tie it tightly because it can hinder blood circulation.
Prop up the leg on pillows above heart level. It helps to reduce pain, swelling, and throbbing.
How to prevent ankle injuries?
Flexible exercises that strengthen your balance can help in preventing ankle injury. Flexibility training helps to loosen tight muscles of the legs, so try calf stretch and heel stretch. Strong leg muscles can strengthen the stability of your ankles. Balance workouts help to stay steady.
Simple precautions are –
- Never play sports or exercise when you are in pain or fatigued.
- Perform ankle stretches as a warm-up before workouts or sports.
- Take time when you walk on uneven or cracked surfaces.
- If you are running then choose flat surfaces to lessen the risks of twisting the ankle.
- Your workouts regime has to be customized according to the sport you will play.
- Wear footwear that fits well. Wear cushioned athletic shoes for running and walking. Choose wide and flat shoes for court sports. For hiking choose the foot that supports the ankle while walking on uneven land.
- Never wear shoes having one-sided worn-down heels.
- Ditch high heels because it is the biggest ankle sprain cost among women.
Visit an Orange County podiatrist in case of an ankle sprain to avoid things getting severe!