Treatment For Minor Sprain
After a doctor’s diagnosis or from your own judgement that you only have a simple sprain, you can usually heal smoothly without much external help. Observe the ankle for two to four days, and apply the RICE method.
- Rest: Stop any physical activities until your ankle healed
- Ice: Use an Ice Pack to apply on the ankle or submerge your feet and ankle in iced water. This should only be done up to 20 minutes to prevent frostbite, and should be done every 2 to 4 hours a day.
- Compression: Bandage or ankle support can be used for stabilization as well as improve healing rate.
- Elevate: If you are seated or lying, elevate such that the ankle is above your chest level.
After two to four days, if there is still extreme pain and you are unable to put weight on the injured ankle, or if there are black and blur marks or blisters, you should see an orthopedic specialist.
Treatment for Serious Sprain or Fractured Ankle
Should your ankle hurt very bad, or feels like a fracture, you should visit a orthopedic specialist. When visiting the orthopedic specialist, it is important to explain in detail how you sustained the injury, so as to assist the doctor in giving a more accurate assessment. The specialist will be able to tell you if you need an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, or an X-ray to determine if there is a fracture or torn ligament and whether surgery is needed.
Most ankle injuries do not require surgery. However, in the event of very serious cases, surgery may be required to insert screws and plates on the side of the ankle bone, or a screw or rod inside the bone to realign the fragments and provide support during recovery. Doctors may recommend different surgeries, depending on the type of injury to the ankle:
- Open Reduction: A surgery that involves opening the ankle and repositioning the bones.
- Internal Fixation: Placing of plates, nails, rods, wires and/or screws in to the fractured ankle.
In the process of recovery, you may also need physiotherapy. After an injury to the ankle, it will be weakened and there are various exercises that can be done to help strengthen it back to 100%, or as close to its original strength as possible. Consult your doctor or a physiotherapist to find out more about physiotherapy exercises.
Ankle Injuries Prevention
As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Following certain precautionary measures will help to reduce your chances of sustaining ankle injuries, which in turn will reduce the hassle of seeking treatment. This is also especially important if you are a competitive athlete or a professional sports player.
- Stretch before and after exercising. Stretching strengthens your muscles and prepare them for a workout, as well as help with cooling down after an exercise. There are many types of stretches available. For example, facing a strong support, lean against it, straighten out your back leg and keep your front leg bent. Keeping your back heel on the floor, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your calf.Do this for 15 to 30 seconds. After this, bend your back leg slightly while keeping both your heels on the floor, for another 15 to 30 seconds.
- Depending on your sport, ensure that you have proper footwear. Invest in good quality shoes so that your ankles are protected. For example, if you play basketball, buy shoes that are high cut to support your ankle, and make sure they fit.
- If you just recovered from an injury, wear an ankle brace can provide additional protection and support to prevent yourself from repeated injury. Injuring yourself again will only make the ankle weaker, and even lead to chronic injury and pain.
- Strengthen the muscles around your ankle through calisthenics or hitting the gym. Developing strong calf, hamstring, quadricep and gluteal muscles will lead to better alignment and support when you participate in sports. Developing a strong core also improves balance and stability, which allows you to maintain a better body posture during collision or other injury-susceptible actions.
Written By: Lim Jun Tian