Uneven pavement, slippery floor, unstable high heels and suddenly TWIST! Sprained ankle. You can try to reduce pain, but you can’t heal it yourself.
Ankle sprains, commonly called “ankles”, usually occur as a result of shifting our weight onto one limb with a sudden twist of a foot. Patients come to us with a “sprained ankle”, but the correct nomenclature is an ankle sprain.
Such a sudden and strong twisting of the foot inwards causes damage (strong tension) of the ligaments on the lateral side of the ankle. In more serious injuries, the ligaments rupture and even break completely. We are dealing here with injury to the ligaments or joint capsule. So you should not confuse sprains with dislocations, which strictly apply to joint surfaces.
The main symptoms of sprain are lateral pain in the ankle, inability to carry full weight on one limb, swelling, and less often hematoma. X-ray examination is often required in the diagnosis of sprains to exclude tarsal or metatarsal fractures.
First aid for sprains is based on the RICE principle:
- Rest – relieving the limb, e.g. by using elbow crutches
- Ice – cooling the ankle with ice compresses in the first days after the injury (remember to apply ice to the skin through a towel or cloth, do not put frozen water directly on the skin)
- Compression – the use of an elastic band
- Elevation – raising the ankle above the heart level to further reduce swelling
Physical therapy is always necessary after ankle injuries. Healed but untreated trauma can lead to habitual ankle sprains, instability, and chronic pain.