If you take an awkward step or slip and fall, you can put a strain on the ligaments that hold the joint in the ankle in place as it moves in a way it does not usually. If the ligaments stretch or tear, you can feel debilitating pain. This is a twisted or sprained ankle.
You might think that because you did not break a bone, you should not worry about this injury. But you will need to take care of this part of the body unless you want lasting damage to the tissue between the bones. Read on to learn more about sprained ankles and the treatment required to restore health and mobility to this joint after this injury.
Why You Need to Treat an Ankle Sprain
If you sprain your ankle, you might notice tenderness in the area as well as pain when you put pressure on the foot or leg. You might also see bruising and swelling near the injury. Even if you retain some mobility with this injury, you will need to proceed with treating it.
Ignoring a sprained ankle could lead to long-term chronic instability of the joint. This means that the injured ligaments might not heal properly. The tissue can then become weak, and you might not regain mobility in the affected joint.
You might also see chronic inflammation in the area as the body continues attempting to fix the improperly healed injury. This will result in a low level of constant pain.
Therefore, you should not ignore this type of injury. You might be able to recover at home, but you should still speak to a podiatrist near you about your twisted ankle to make sure it heals as it needs to.
How to Treat a Sprained Ankle
Experts use the acronym RICE when it comes to first aid and initial treatment of a sprained ankle. It refers to actions to take, which include:
- Rest: take the weight off of the injured ankle by sitting or lying down.
- Ice: apply ice to the ankle.
- Compression: wrap the ankle with a compression bandage.
- Elevation: keep the ankle raised higher than your hips.
These efforts can help you reduce swelling and pain, allowing for more comfort while the injury begins to heal. You might also take anti-inflammatory medication for further pain management. Depending on the severity of the sprain, it may take between two to 12 weeks to heal the injury.
You should visit a podiatrist, even if you think you can manage the pain and recovery on your own. They will need to rule out a fracture or other injury using diagnostic imaging. The podiatrist might also suggest physical therapy for a moderate sprain to help you recover mobility as the sprain heals.
If you feel excruciating pain and cannot bear weight at all on the injured leg, consider going to the emergency room. A severe tear in the ligament might need surgery or other more intensive treatment to fix the joint.