Ankle sprains are common. So common that you might be tempted to brush yours off and just grin and bear it as it heals. However, once you sprain your ankle, you’re at risk for chronic ankle instability.
If you have a sprained ankle, the ligaments in your ankle are stretched, torn, or ruptured, which leads to swelling, pain, bruising, and problems walking.
If the ligaments don’t heal correctly, they can’t hold your ankle joint in place and may also limit your range of motion. When this occurs, you can easily reinjure your ankle.
At Cortez Foot and Ankle Specialists in Bradenton, Sarasota, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida, the specialists urge you to take your ankle sprain seriously.
A poorly healed ankle does more than increase your risk for further ankle injuries; it throws off the alignment and functioning of your entire body.
If you want your steps to be stable and pain-free, take the following four steps as soon as you sprain your ankle:
Step 1: Use the RICE method
We recommend the RICE method to protect your ligaments from further damage and reduce swelling as quickly as possible. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation:
Rest your ankle as much as possible for the first 24-48 hours following your injury. You may need crutches or another assistive device to keep the weight off your foot.
Apply a wrapped ice pack to the injured area for 15-20 minutes, 3-5 times daily. Be sure you never place the ice or ice pack directly on your skin.
Compressing your ankle helps reduce swelling and stabilizes your ankle. At your drugstore, you can find elastic wraps, such as bandages and ankle sleeves.
Raise your foot to lessen swelling and allow fluid to drain from the area. Prop your foot up on a footstool when you sit in a chair or sofa. Put a pillow under your foot when you’re in bed. We advise taking nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, to reduce pain and discomfort.
Step 2: See your podiatrist
Make an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as you sprain your ankle. The longer you wait, the more your condition may deteriorate, especially if you have swelling, numbness, or severe pain or can’t bear weight on the ankle.
During your consultation, we evaluate your ankle and foot to determine which ligaments you injured and how severely. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic technology, including:
- Physimax functional movement assessments
- Optojump gait analysis
We also examine the rest of your body to determine if spinal misalignments contributed to your ankle sprain.
After we collect and evaluate the data, we diagnose your ankle sprain and develop a personalized treatment plan. It aims to restore your ankle’s normal range of motion and strengthen its supporting muscles and ligaments.
Step 3: Strengthen and support
We aim to get you back on your feet quickly and prevent future injuries. Our rehabilitation techniques often combine physical therapy, bracing, and functional medicine techniques.
We give you ankle-strengthening exercises that retrain your muscles, restore your range of motion and improve your balance. Some of our specialized training programs are based on activities or sports you enjoy.
Some ankle injuries may require a brace to provide support. Not only can braces keep your ankle ligaments from moving as they heal, but they can also prevent future ankle sprains.
We may recommend custom-made shoe orthotics to correct gait abnormalities that could raise your risk of re-injury.
Step 4: Be patient
Ankle sprains take time to heal. You may respond to treatment and rehabilitation in four weeks or less if you have a mild sprain. Severe injuries, however, may take several months to heal fully.
Despite the length of your recovery, do your best to follow your rehabilitation plan. Following and sticking to these four steps helps you recover quickly and reduces your chances of reinjuring your ankle.
If you have a sprained ankle or ankle instability, contact Cortez Foot and Ankle Specialists by calling or booking online for an appointment at one of our offices.