The most common ankle problems are sprains and fractures. A sprain is an injury to a ligament. It may take a few weeks to many months to heal completely, depending on the extent of the sprain. A fracture is a break in a bone. It can take several weeks for a broken bone to heal. If the fracture is severe, surgery may be required to realign bones prior to immobilizing the area for healing. Ankle sprains and fractures are common sports injuries.
You can also injure other parts of the ankle, such as tendons, which join muscles to bones, as well as cartilage, which cushions joints.
Misconceptions About Fractures
Oftentimes, there are misconceptions about fractures that hinder people from seeking treatment right away. These misconceptions include:
- Believing that if you can wiggle your toes or move the ankle around, an ankle fracture has not occurred. The reason this is not true is because the nerves and muscles that allow the movement of the ankle are not necessarily affected by a fracture.
- Thinking that if you can walk on your ankle, it must not be broken. Many people can walk on a fractured ankle early on until the pain becomes too unbearable.
- Believing that if the ankle is not characterized by swelling, there is no possibility that a fracture has occurred. Sometimes, swelling doesn’t occur when a fracture happens. This is especially true if the fracture is a stress fracture. Oftentimes, swelling of a stress fracture will be no larger than the size of a silver dollar.
Treatment of an ankle sprain includes rest, ice therapy, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.). In addition to RICE, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy. Physical therapy helps to decrease pain and swelling, prevent chronic ankle problems, and helps you get back to normal activity.
Don’t Walk With A Sprained Ankle
Walking on a sprained ankle is not advised. After a sprain occurs, it needs time to heal before it can take on weight-bearing. Walking or weight-bearing too soon may slow healing or cause further damage.
Don’t Forget To Elevate Your Foot
Keeping your foot raised helps decrease pain and swelling. When you elevate your ankle, try to keep it at the level of your heart. Lying on a couch with pillows under your foot is better than sitting in a chair with your foot on a footstool. Try to keep your foot elevated for 2 to 3 hours a day.
Don’t Forget to Compress, But Don’t Compress Too Tightly
Compression (wrapping the ankle with a strip of elastic cloth) will help decrease swelling and support your ankle. You can use an elastic wrap from the drug store or get an air splint from your doctor. Your doctor will show you how to use it. Be careful not to wrap the ankle too tightly. This can slow the blood flow to your foot. Use the elastic bandage for 1 to 2 days.
Remember to remove compression bandages at night while sleeping. As swelling reduces, it may be necessary to adjust compression bandaging. Consistent elevation will accelerate the healing process.
It is important to refrain from exercise immediately following an ankle injury, but once it heals adequately, you should begin exercising regularly. Start with mild exercises and gradually increase the intensity over time. Ask your doctor about exercises and stretches that are appropriate for recovery from your specific foot or ankle issue.
Use The Appropriate Temperature Therapy
For a lot of injuries, particularly ones that cause swelling, you should apply an ice pack to the area for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. Make sure you put something between the ice and your skin, so you don’t injure the area.
In some cases, foot and ankle injuries require heat therapy. You can use a heat pad or a hot-water bottle to apply heat to the area for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
Your doctor will instruct you on which type of temperature therapy is best for your injury.
Ankle Sprain Treatment and Recovery in South Texas
Improper treatment for an ankle sprain or fracture, returning to your activities too soon, or repeatedly injuring your ankle can delay your recovery or worse, create new problems. Prevent your condition from worsening by consulting an ankle specialist immediately after you get injured or experience symptoms.
Visit the Podiatry Group of South Texas if you are experiencing symptoms from an ankle injury. We have 14 different locations in Southern Texas for your convenience. Our friendly experts provide top-notch medical care and will ensure that you understand your treatment process.