Ankle sprains can happen due to incorrect foot placement, sudden changes in direction, or a twisted ankle, and they are a common injury among athletes and even those who engage in regular walking.

The initial symptoms of an ankle sprain typically include pain and swelling.

Ankle Sprain: Swelling as the First Sign

The primary indicators to watch out for in the case of an ankle sprain are pain and swelling in the affected area, which may feel warm to the touch. Within a few hours after the sprain, a bruise around the joint may also develop.

One immediate step to alleviate the pain and reduce swelling is to apply ice.

Ankle Sprain: Seek Medical Attention and Avoid Self-Treatment

While ankle sprains are often perceived as minor injuries, not causing significant concern, specific injuries, especially those associated with damage to the joint’s capsules and ligaments, can lead to chronic instability.

Furthermore, persistent swelling and a noticeable bruise should indicate that the injury should not be underestimated.

The bruise and swelling may also indicate severe damage to the capsules and ligaments, which, if not adequately treated, can result in future sprains and more severe complications.

Ankle Sprain: The Importance of X-ray for Accurate Diagnosis

Upon suspecting an ankle sprain, the first action is to inform a doctor or seek immediate medical attention. At this point, an X-ray will be performed to identify or rule out possible fractures and microfractures.

The examination will allow the specialist to determine the most suitable treatment, which may include medication.

Ankle Sprain: The RICE Protocol

The therapy for healing and treating an ankle sprain can be summarized by the RICE protocol, which stands for:

– Rest: Avoid engaging in sports or any activity that requires prolonged foot support;

– Ice: Apply ice to reduce pain, swelling, and potential bruising;

– Compression: Use an appropriate bandage for compression to avoid compromising circulation. It is essential to avoid DIY methods and use a brace recommended by the doctor;

– Elevation: Keep the leg and ankle elevated (e.g., using pillows) to promote blood circulation and reduce bruising.

Ankle Sprain: Healing Time

Determining the severity of the sprain is crucial in understanding the healing timeline and process, which a specialist will assess.

For instance, minor injuries with minimal involvement of the joint’s capsules and ligaments can typically resolve within two weeks with appropriate therapy and specific rehabilitation. On the other hand, significant injuries may require more extended treatment and re-education to restore balance.

Capsulo-ligamentous injuries, which are pretty standard in ankle trauma, result in a decline in the joint’s stabilizing mechanisms known as proprioceptive decline. Recovery from this condition often requires an extensive medical rehabilitation program. In specific cases, such as those involving significant trauma, surgical intervention may be necessary for repairing or reconstructing damaged structures, as well as treating any associated cartilage conditions.