Article featured on UCSF Health
Many athletes, however, who suffer from ankle sprains tend to play right through their injury, which can lead to lifelong problems with recurring sprains, unstable joints, arthritis-like pain or other complications like tendon or cartilage damage. And the earlier in life a sprain occurs, the higher the chance of recurrence. Therefore, it’s important to properly treat initial sprains, especially in young athletes.
If you sprain your ankle and it hurts to run, you should sit out the rest of the game. Once a sprain has occurred, follow these three steps to help you recover:
Step 1: RICE
Follow the instructions represented by the acronym RICE as often as possible for three days. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression (with an elastic ankle wrap) and elevation (toes above the nose). For significantly swollen ankles or if limping persists for more than three days, you should see a doctor.
Step 2: Rehabilitation
To prevent permanent damage to the ankle, take steps to achieve better range of motion (flexibility), balance and strength. Many of these exercises can be done at home.
Range of motion exercise
Place one foot on a stairway step. Allow the back heel to stretch downward over the edge of the step. Hold each foot in this position for 30 seconds.
Balance restoration exercise
Stand on one leg with your eyes closed. Gradually build up to standing 30 seconds on each leg. Repeat three times.
Lie on your side on the sofa, with the upper leg hanging over the edge. Place the top of your foot through the handles of a plastic shopping bag filled with one to two pounds of weight (one or two cans of soup). Slowly lift your toes toward the ceiling and hold for three seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Step 3: Supportive devices
When back to playing sports, previously injured athletes should probably wear an ankle brace, no matter how much they have rehabilitated their ankle or how good their sneakers. An injured ankle will never have the same support again, so a brace should be considered.
Step 4: If pain continues
For ankle pain and significant instability that persists despite adequate rehabilitation or physical therapy, you should see a doctor for further evaluation. You may have injured the cartilage or tendons in your ankle, which may require special testing.
New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.
New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.
Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.
If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.