Most of us have twisted an ankle at some time in our lives. An ankle sprain, which is also known as a rolled ankle, twisted ankle or an ankle ligament injury is definitely one of the most common injuries. This injury occurs due to a sudden twist in the ankle. The twisting motion could occur when you are running or walking on an uneven surface. Well, whatever be the cause of an ankle sprain, it is always best to get a sprained ankle examined. Rolled ankle treatment options and recovery time basically depend on the extent of damage caused by the twisting motion. Before we move on to the treatment options for an ankle sprain, let's find out what exactly happens when you sprain your ankle.
Causes and Symptoms of a Twisted Ankle
An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle is twisted beyond its normal range of motion. Though athletes or runners are more susceptible to this kind of injury, but it could occur while you perform daily activities. To understand what happens during this injury, let me tell you a basic idea about ankle anatomy. The ankle consists of bones called tibia, fibula, talus and calcaneus. The movement and flexibility of the ankle joint is facilitated by the way these bones interact with each other. These bones are connected to each other with thick fibrous bands of tissues called ligaments. These provide support to the ankle joint. An ankle sprain occurs when the foot is forced into an inversion or eversion. This means that the ankle is rolled in or out beyond the control of ligaments. When the ankle is placed in an abnormal position, these ligaments get overstretched or develop tears.
The severity of symptoms experienced by one depends on the extent of damage caused to the ligament. A torn ligament in ankle will cause severe pain and one will take longer to recover. Ankle pain, swelling, bruising and stiffness in the ankle joint are some of the common symptoms. The degree of sprain will determine the severity of symptoms. While first degree sprain causes a mild stretching of ligaments, a second degree sprain causes the ligaments to develop tears. The third degree sprain is the most painful and is caused due to the complete rupture of ligaments.
Treatment of a Twisted Ankle
If you have recently sprained your ankle, you must get an X-ray done. this will help the doctor ascertain the extent of damage to the ligaments. When it comes to ankle sprain, most doctors suggest the patients to follow the RICE principle. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It's extremely important that you rest your sprained ankle. It is the first and foremost step of the treatment. If you continue to indulge in physical activities while you have a sprained ankle, you are definitely slowing down sprained ankle recovery process. Moreover, ligaments take a greater time to heal, so if you want to be back on your feet soon, refrain from physical activities that put pressure on your legs. You should use crutches till the time recommended by the physician.
Application of ice packs is a tried and tested method for bringing the swelling down. One thing that you need to know is that ice should never be applied directly on the ankle. Make sure that you wrap ice in a clean cloth. Apply it for 10-15 minutes at regular intervals several times daily. Compression is another important aspect of the treatment. Compressing the affected ankle by an elastic bandage will help in alleviating the symptoms to a great extent. It will provide support to the ankle and will bring down the swelling to a great extent. You should also keep your leg elevated. While you sleep, place the affected ankle on stacked pillows. Recovery time will depend on the degree of sprain. While you might recover within 2-6 weeks in case of a first degree sprain, you might take about 4-8 weeks to completely recover from a second degree sprain.
In case of a torn ligament in the ankle, the healing time will be slower. One might take about 8-12 weeks to recover. Since one is most likely to suffer from foot and ankle pain, certain anti-inflammatory drugs might also be prescribed for alleviating these symptoms. You could also go for physical therapy sessions and learn exercises that will help in strengthening the ankle joint. A foot massage will prove beneficial in treating a sprained ankle as well.
If you have sprained your ankle, don't take it casually. If sprains and strains damage the ligaments of your ankle, it can affect your mobility. So, consult a doctor for the treatment and follow the aftercare instructions recommended by your doctor.