Common Injuries: The Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are a common occurrence not just during any type of heavy physical activity, but also during common day-to-day activities. Walking and accidentally tripping on something is a common cause for ankle sprains. Some people have a history of lax ligaments making them more predisposed to ankle sprains. Other factors would be ill- fitting shoes, and physical activity that requires plenty of walking and running on rough terrain or activities requiring sudden stops and twisting movements. Prevention as well as protection is the best way to manage any form of potential injury such as ankle sprains. An ankle sprain during a hike is a sure fire way to ruin the moment. Key to preventing ankle sprains is to make sure that you have the proper fitting shoes and the right type of shoes for your activity. For hiking, high top boots is highly recommended. You should also make sure to break in any new shoes for at least a week, prior to using it for hiking or sports. Physical fitness is also an important factor to preventing injury.
Statistically speaking, around 23,000 Americans experience ankle sprains every day for a variety of reasons, making it a commonly sustained injury. Now the foot and ankle is made up of several ligaments, tendons, and bones. Ligaments are tissue connecting bone to bone. Because they bear a lot of weight and experience a lot of movement, these parts are often prone to injury. A sprain happens when your ligaments get over stretched. This is followed by inflammation, swelling, redness, and warmth on the affected area. One of the most common ways that cause a sprain is inversion or when your foot suddenly and accidentally turns inward, and there are many ways that this may happen. However, simple sprains can be managed in the field to prevent it from becoming worse. Do seek medical treatment as soon as possible though.
The word to remember when it comes to first aid for any muscular and skeletal injury is RICE. This means R – Rest, I – Ice, C – Compress, E – Elevate. Following this advice is very helpful in relieving pain and preventing the injury from getting worse.
R – Rest the affected area (for the purposes of our topic, this would be the ankle) to prevent any further or aggravating the injury. Remember to keep weight off on the injured part.
I – Apply cold or ice compress (do not apply ice directly, wrap it in a clean towel or shirt first before applying to the affected area) on the affected area. Apply for 20 minutes with a 30 minute rest interval before applying again. This helps to lessen the pain and swelling.
C – Compress the site of injury with bandages. You can also immobilize and support the affected ankle with these bandages. Take note not to wrap the area too tightly as this may cut off the blood supply.
E – Elevate the affected area or ankle to reduce the swelling or prevent the swelling from becoming worse.
Now I want you to remember that these are only first aid techniques to prevent any further injury and also to minimize pain. A lot of people mistakenly believe that if you can walk on or use the affected part, then it is not broken. This is dangerous as continuously using the affected part may aggravate the injury leading to further complications. Aggravation and improper medical management may further weaken the ligaments increasing the risk of recurrent injuries in the future. Once first aid has been applied, it is best to see your healthcare provider at once.
Dr. Alex Estrada obtained his medical degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. He advanced his medical training at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, New York and New York Hospital of Queens.
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