Ankle sprains can be very painful injuries, causing you to experience limited mobility, swelling, and, depending on the severity, discoloration of the skin. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments are torn or stretched beyond their limits. Although this can occur in various areas of the body, the ankle is one of the most common sites for a sprain.
There are multiple ways an ankle sprain can occur. An activity as simple as walking can cause a sprain. If you lose your footing or if you are walking on uneven terrain, the ankle could be rolled over and sprained due to excess weight and pressure being put on the area. This can often happen to athletes who continually push their limits, or for someone who has suffered from a previous accident involving the lower extremities.
In less severe cases, medical attention is not required for a sprained ankle. Remedies for self-care at home include propping the ankle up, applying ice packs as needed, and remaining off your feet. Some may also find that wrapping the ankle with an ACE bandage and taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce pain as well as inflammation. One of the most important things to remember in treating a sprained ankle is to avoid further stress to the affected area, so stay off your feet as much as possible.
Sprained ankles are painful in nature, but those with severe unrelenting pain may have sustained a worse injury than previously thought. If swelling becomes too severe, numbness or tingling is present, or walking becomes too painful for you to take more than a few steps, seek immediate medical attention. Mild to moderate bruising is common with a sprain, but those who are injured should be wary of redness of the skin or worsening of the discoloration.
In more severe injuries, complications may arise from an ankle sprain and obtaining medical treatment will become necessary. A severe sprain can actually tear the ligament and even damage the muscle. When this occurs, you may have to be off your feet for a prolonged period of time. Depending on the severity and nature of the damage, surgery and physical therapy may be required. Seeking out a podiatrist will help in making these decisions.
One of the best treatments for an ankle sprain is to prevent it in the first place. Wearing appropriate shoes for the occasion, stretching before exercises and sports, and knowing your limits can aid in prevention. Those that have suffered from a previous sprain may want to consider additional support, such as a brace and regular exercise to strengthen the ankle.