The ligaments surrounding the ankle are surprisingly fragile. A seemingly harmless motion has the potential to cause serious sprains. Ankle ligaments are elastic structures that hold the ankle joint together to prevent (or minimize) excessive twisting and turning that can lead to injury. These ligaments are able to stretch slightly to accommodate normal movements, but as with everything, they have an inherent limit. When they are stretched beyond their natural limits, the result is a painful sprain.
You probably know the feeling…
Anyone can suffer from ankle sprains, from trained athletes to a regular Joe. A few actions that can lead to ankle sprains are:
- Running, particularly if you plant your foot at an awkward angle
- Walking on uneven surfaces
- Missing a step while climbing stairs
You can even sprain your ankle just from stepping out of bed, if you happen to step down on something that twists your ankle at an unnatural angle.
When you sprain your ankle, here’s what happens:
Blood rushes into the injured area, causing inflammation. The ankle swells up, causing increased sensitivity of the nerves, leading to pain. Attempting to move the ankle, standing or walking on it can be extremely painful. The injured ankle might also become red and overly warm because of the increased blood flow.
Typically, a sprain is minor enough to heal by itself by the next day. However, if the ankle gets swollen and standing or walking on it becomes unbearable, a fracture needs to be ruled out. So be sure to go to the hospital and seek an X-ray or consult your physician at the very least.
The main goal in the early stages is to reduce inflammation. An important step after the injury is to apply ice as quickly as possible, in order to minimize swelling. Ice also helps to reduce the pain, redness, and warmth common to ankle sprains. It’s also important to rest the ankle as much as possible, and to elevate it above your heart. All this will facilitate healing and help your body absorb the fluid that has flooded into the tissue surrounding the injured area.
The muscles surrounding a sprained ankle often tighten and shorten, resulting in decreased range of motion. As a result, your ankle is more prone to reinjury unless you stretch and strengthen those muscles.
This is where we come in to help you.
Our staff will work with you closely, every step of the way to carefully retrain the muscles and ligaments surrounding the injured area in order to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. We know how frustrating it can be, and want to assure you that we are committed to your rehabilitation and exercise needs.
We normally recommend stretching activities during the process of recovery.
- Be careful not to perform any stretches that cause immediate or intense pain, as you could cause injury to the already-tender muscles and ligaments.
- Use smooth, slow movements and remain within the limits of pain.
- When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
We can help you create a customized stretching plan that will restore flexibility in your muscles, provide pain relief and minimize the likelihood of further injury. Please call us to schedule a consultation today.