Did you know that, according to one study, 14% of all sports-related orthopedic emergency visits were the result of an ankle injury—namely, a sprain? As one of the highest sports-related injuries in the U.S., sprains occur when ligaments are stretched or torn. While the resulting symptoms of a sprained ankle are often painful and uncomfortable, there are a number of tips to help ensure a safer and more rapid recovery.
At OrthoAspen, we routinely help Western Slope athletes recover from ankle sprains and return to the sports they live and breathe. Find out how following these simple tips can help you heal faster.
Sprained Ankle Dos and Don’ts for Best Recovery Results
Since sprained ankles are closely linked to court- and team-related sports, basketball is often a breeding place for sprains. The ligaments on the lateral (outer) part of the ankle are the most susceptible to overstretching and tearing from twisting and awkward landings.
When the strong ligaments that reinforce the connective bones of the ankle are compromised, it greatly impacts the stability and healthy positioning of the joint.
An ankle sprain is often diagnosed when an individual exhibits the following symptoms:
- Pain and tenderness to touch
- Swelling and bruising around the sprain site
- Instability of the ankle, especially during weight-bearing activity (even walking)
Seek the aid of an orthopedic specialist if you suspect you have an ankle sprain. An orthopedic physician will conduct an x-ray to ensure the ankle has not been fractured, in addition to conducting a physical examination. During the exam, your doctor will test the range of motion and massage your ankle ligaments to identify the injury location.
If a sprain has been identified, an orthopedic physician generally makes a prognosis based on three different sprain grades. In a grade one sprain diagnosis, your orthopedic specialist may recommend steps for sprained ankle treatment at home. In moderate to severe grade two and three sprains, physical therapy may be recommended.
By following a few simple steps and avoiding a few others, a sprained ankle recovery doesn’t have to be complicated. To increase the chances of a successful and more rapid recovery, DO do the following:
- Incorporate the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) method.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling, as prescribed by your orthopedic doctor.
- Wear a boot or brace and limit weight-bearing activity by using crutches for as long as instructed.
- Practice rehabilitation activities suggested by a physical therapist such as trunk and hip strengthening exercises.
To avoid further damaging a sprained ankle, DON’T do any of the following:
- Engage in pivoting or twisting movements during a two- to three-week rest period.
- Resume high-intensity activity or sports before being cleared by an orthopedic specialist.
- Skip physical therapy sessions; this will prolong the recovery process.
- Ignore sprained ankle swelling and/or pain that does not improve over time or worsens.
Sprained Ankle Recovery Time
Depending on patient factors and the sprained ankle grade, the injury typically takes anywhere from six to 12 weeks to fully heal. Best results occur when an ankle-sprain patient diligently follows the previously mentioned guidelines.
No matter what type of ankle injury you may have experienced, our OrthoAspen physicians are equipped to handle emergency situations, routine consultations and coordinate physical therapy—our specialized teams work together from the beginning of the process to the end.
If you have sprained ankle symptoms or would like to schedule an appointment, call us today at 970-544-1289.