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A Guide to a Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle occurs when an excessive amount of pressure is placed on the ligaments in the ankle which they are unable to cope with causing damage and tearing to the soft tissue. The severity of the injury can range from a partial tear to a complete rupture.   A common cause of a sprained ankle is a rapid change of direction, commonly seen in sports such as football and rugby which are played on uneven surfaces. Athletes who excessively turn their foot inwards are also highly likely to sustain this type of injury. Athletes who suffer from sprained ankle will usually complain of a sudden surge of pain at the point of injury and may even hear and feel a snapping sensation. This will usually be followed by swelling and inflammation of the area A Sprained ankle can take between five days and two weeks to heal properly, a severe sprain may take longer to heal, with a recovery time of four to six weeks expected. However, the recovery time will fully depend on the severity of your injury. It is recommended that you rest a sprained ankle and avoid putting any pressure on it to aid recovery. Following the entire RICE protocol within the first 72 hours will be useful in aiding recovery and relieving pain. A doctor will provide a full examination and an X-ray will be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis, an MRI or CT scan may be recommended and take place to rule out any further injury or complications. Once the injury is in its final stages the patient can begin to take gradual steps back to activity which can involve an increase in weight bearing activity and strengthening exercises advised by a physiotherapist, keeping the are strong and ensuring flexibility when the patient returns to sport. This should not be done without professional advice as you run the risk of aggravating the area and delaying the healing process. Summary Causes
  • Impact or excessive pressure applied to the ankle
  • Rapid changes in direction and excessive turning of the foot inwards or outwards
  • Sudden pain in the area at the point of injury
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Inability to bear weight on the injury
  • RICE method within first 72 hours
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Bracing to prevent further injury