Ankle sprains are common sports injuries treated by podiatrists.
Ankle sprains and strains can happen every day. Early attention is important. Whenever you sustain a foot or ankle injury, you should seek immediate treatment from a podiatrist.
Anyone can experience an ankle sprain, from the fittest athlete to the most sedentary person. Usually, the cause is accidental. However, people who are overweight and those who wear high-heeled shoes are at an increased risk.
How ankle sprains and strains happen
Ankle injuries usually involve a sudden, unexpected loss of balance that results in a sharp twist of the ankle. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon overstretches. A sprain, which is more serious, occurs when strong connective tissue which connects one bone to another (ligaments) becomes overstretched.
If you suffer an ankle sprain you can expect:
- Pain, soreness and tenderness, from mild aching to intense pain
- Swelling of the ankle, usually occurring very quickly after the injury
- Inability to move the ankle or to stand and put pressure on it
- Ankle stiffness
Prevention is better than cure
- If there is a tendency to roll over on the ankle, wearing snugly laced high-top shoes may provide some protection
- Strengthen the calf muscles by doing heel raises and dips, and calf stretches
- Wear supportive shoes – avoid platform soles, high heels, open shoes and sandals
- Undertake a strengthening and stability training/re-training programme from a Podiatrist
- Buy shoes that provide stability and support – custom orthotics may help provide ankle stability after an injury
If you are suffering from a sprain or strain:
- Do not use heat or hot water if you suspect a fracture, sprain, or dislocation – seek medical assistance
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may help to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation
- You should follow the recognised management protocol – RICED – rest, ice, compression, elevation and diagnosis:
- Rest – keep off the injured ankle as much as possible.
- Ice – applied for 20 minutes at a time every hour as long as swelling persists.
- Compression – support the ankle and foot with a firmly (not tightly) wrapped elastic bandage.
- Elevation – keep foot above heart level to minimize bruising and swelling.
- Diagnosis – consult a medical professional (such as a podiatrist or doctor) especially if you are worried about the injury, or if the pain or swelling gets worse. Also seek treatment if the pain or swelling has not gone down significantly within 48 hours. An accurate diagnosis is essential for proper rehabilitation of moderate to severe injuries.
When to see a Podiatrist
Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot problems. Prompt action is important. Problems which are left without assessment or treatment may result in major health risks.