Sprained ankles may occur frequently and become a serious medical problem, destabilizing your every step and putting you in jeopardy of taking a disastrous fall. Ankle sprains can be divided into groups of mild, moderate, or severe. These are often graded as Grade 1, which is a mild sprain, Grade 2 that is more severe and may be associated with longer recovery and may involve a partial tear of ligaments or tendon. Grade 3 often refers to a complete tear of the ligaments and tendon and requires longer periods of care and in severe cases may require surgical treatment.
Most ankle sprains affect the outer side of the ankle, which has just three small ligaments supporting it. The method of injury is a turning of the foot inward at the ankle (an inversion sprain).
There are two types of feet that are very susceptible to frequent ankle sprains, and if left untreated they can cause a lifetime of pain and disability.
- In the first foot type, these ligaments are weak or thin, they cannot provide proper support, and any twist or turn of the ankle will tear or injure these ligaments, causing a painful sprain. Each subsequent sprain will weaken these ligaments further.
- The second foot type susceptible to ankle sprains is the pronated foot (the foot rolls outward and you walk on the inner side of the foot). This foot type causes a shortening and weakening of the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. Thus, any twist of the ankle will injure and stretch these shortened ligaments until they tear, causing pain and serious sprains. If ankle sprains continue to occur, the ankle ligaments may be completely destroyed.
For immediate pain relief:
- If the pain or swelling is intense, or if you are not sure, you may have a fracture. In this case go to your podiatrist or the emergency room immediately. If the pain is severe, x-ray examination and other types of scans may be necessary to visualize the damage to the soft tissue structures. In less severe cases, follow the protocol shown here:
- Rest and elevation. Reduce weight-bearing activities (use crutches). Elevate the leg to help reduce swelling.
- Apply ice to the ankle for 30 minutes every two hours, for the first three days. Then apply mild moist heat twice daily for 30 minutes. Heat must be mild! Apply ice or heat the easy way, and without a mess. Doctors recommend Active Wrap (Ankle, Foot and Elbow) Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap.
- Apply mild compression to the ankle with a 3-inch elastic bandage. This will support the ankle ligaments and reduce swelling. Compression must be mild (do not apply so tight that it will reduce circulation).
- After two days, your ankle should be less painful, and the swelling and discolorations should be going away. If not, see a podiatrist immediately.In Grade 2 and 3 ankle sprains, pain and immobilization may continue for several weeks. Physical therapy is sometimes indicated as well as use of fracture boot or cast.
Long Term Treatment: Treatment must be directed at supporting the ankle ligaments, and preventing further sprains. Podiatrists, orthopedists, trainers, and physical therapists recommend the following products.
- Custom-made orthotics maintains the foot in its normal position to the ankle, thus helping to eliminate ankle sprains. This orthotic gently holds the heel in a normal or neutral position, thus stabilizing the ankle. This helps to prevent the foot from twisting, and protects the ankle ligaments from the trauma of the twist. Whether the cause of your frequent ankle sprains are loose and weak ligaments, or pronation, custom-made orthotics will help to stabilize your foot and ankle; and thus, help to prevent injury, pain, and swelling from occurring. Our custom-made orthotics can be made to fit in most shoe styles with heel heights of 1 and 1/2 inches or less. Click here to learn how we can fit you with a pair of custom-made orthotics.
- Ankle Braces provide stability, and help to prevent sprains and ligamenetous injuries. The ankle braces that we sell are the same ones that are sold in doctor’s offices and hospitals, they cannot be found in pharmacies. Doctors have found them to be effective, comfortable, durable, and economical. We invite you to compare these braces to each other, and choose the one that will best serve your needs.