August 22, 2019

The most common ankle injuries are sprains and fractures. These commonly occur when playing sports, but you do not have to be an athlete to get an ankle injury. You might be walking up the stairs or to your favorite cafe, going on your usual hike or taking a stroll at the park, and get into an accident which hurts your ankle. Ankle injuries are not always a serious problem, but they can be a great inconvenience and cause a lot of pain. 

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Ankle Injuries: What You Need to Know | Palm Beach Naturals

Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligament, which connects ankle bones, is severely stretched and torn in such a manner that the body is unable to repair the damage promptly. Sudden or frequent tearing due to overuse or acute injury leads to soreness, swelling, pain, and moderate incapacitation and instability, and requires medical treatment and time to heal. 

A sprain is classified into three grades, depending on the severity of the tearing. When there is only a slight tearing of the ligament that causes mild swelling soreness, this is classified as a grade one sprain. A more significant but partial ligament tear that causes more pain, swelling, and bruising and makes it difficult to put weight on the foot is a grade two sprain. A complete ligament tear is a grade three sprain and is accompanied by severe pain and instability or moderate incapacitation. 

Emergency treatment for a sprain involves following the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It's recommended that you rest your sprained ankle for at least two days. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20-minutes at a time and every two hours until the swelling has subsided. Administer compression with a bandage. Finally, keep the injured ankle elevated above heart level as much as possible. This effectively eases some of the pain and helps the injury heal faster. A sprain can heal in a few weeks, but severe ones can take months to heal completely.

Ankle Injuries: What You Need to Know | Palm Beach Naturals

Fractures

A fracture occurs when the bone is broken. It can be classified as a stable ankle fracture when the broken bones are still in their proper places and can be treated with a splint or a cast. An unstable ankle fracture occurs when the broken bones have moved out of place, and surgery is required to fix the injury. Six weeks is the average length of recovery time for an ankle fracture, but it could be longer depending on the extent of the damage. 

Ankle Anatomy

The ankle is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It is strong enough to carry the full weight of the body and bear impact forces when you engage in physical activities. 

Overuse or an acute injury often causes ankle pain or pain along the Achilles tendon, which connects the heel bone to the lower leg muscles. More often than not, mild ankle pain can be effectively treated at home. But adequate time for recovery and healing is essential. Severe ankle pain and especially one from an injury requires immediate medical treatment. 

A visit to the doctors as soon as possible is needed if there is:

  • Persistent swelling, particularly if it does not improve after five days
  • Pain that lasts for several weeks
  • An open wound, and especially when there are signs of infection
  • A severe deformity
  • Difficulty putting weight on the affected foot

In addition to the RICE technique, over-the-counter pain medications may also be taken to help ease ankle pain.