Whether due to exercise or high heels, ankle sprains are extremely common and can happen to just about anyone. While it may be tempting to simply reach for an anti-inflammatory drug and then try to walk it off, this can actually cause longer-lasting damage to your ankle. From understanding the severity of your sprain to knowing exactly what to do right after it happens, these tips will help you to deal with an ankle sprain in the most effective way.
What Exactly is a Sprain?
The bones of the leg are connected to those of the foot by a strong band of ligaments, and, when your ankle is twisted or turned in an unexpected way, these ligaments can stretch or tear, resulting in a sprain. While spraining your ankle does make you much more susceptible to future sprains in the same area, this can be avoided by ensuring that you take care of your sprain in the best way possible.
Understanding the Severity of a Sprain
The mildest form of a sprain would result in a small amount of pain when putting weight on that leg, but will not have much noticeable stiffness or swelling. Secondary degree sprains usually involve torn ligaments, which results in bruising, stiffness, swelling and, often, a large amount of pain. Third-degree sprains are quite different when it comes to pain, and, if this happened to you, you would feel an intense amount of pain the moment the damage was caused, but then a sense of numbness in the area afterwards. This is because a third-degree sprain is usually when the ligament completely ruptures, and the numbness is often accompanied by some serious swelling.
Caring for an Ankle Sprain
As soon as you suspect that you may have sprained your ankle, it is vital that you immediately rest it completely, ensuring that you do not put any weight on it. Icing it for about fifteen-minute sessions, three times a day, will also help to drastically reduce any swelling, while keeping it elevated at a level higher than your heart will help to promote a healthy circulation. While painkillers to control the level of pain may be necessary, stay away from any anti-inflammatory drugs for the first two days. The reason for this is to give your own natural inflammatory process some time to start working, as this will kick start the healing process, after which anti-inflammatory medication can be used to keep the swelling down.
While long periods of rest used to be recommended for ankle sprains, this is not the case anymore. Instead, the best way to encourage healing within your ankle is by embracing functional rehabilitation, doing walking and mobility exercises to enhance your ankle’s mobility and speed up the recovery process. Ankle sprains can occur anytime, when you really are least expecting it, so it is always useful to know exactly what you need to do when it happens, and how to speed up the overall recovery process afterwards.