The ankles uphold the weight of our body and are one of the most susceptible joints. Among all joint injuries, ankle sprains are very common. This can be caused during exercise or any other physical activity. Some other causes of ankle sprains are accidents, wearing high-heel footwear, lifting heavy weights, and walking or running on uneven ground. It hurts the ligament- a tissue that links bones together.
This easy to remember acronym can easily help you prevent causing further injury to the affected area and will let you recover completely from first and second-degree ankle sprains. It consists of the following steps:
Protect the area: One of the most common myths during a sprain is that one should immediately start massaging the area. Please do not do that! Not only does it not help, it may increase the severity of the injury. To prevent making the sprain worse, one needs to protect the afflicted ankle. Wearing sneakers, crocs or other footwear with a very soft sole and significant amount of padding on the sides can do this.
Rest: The first 48 to 72 hours after an ankle sprain is highly critical. To help expedite the healing one needs to avoid putting any pressure on the affected area. This means one needs to minimize walking or even standing as much as possible. Completely immobilizing oneself for three days may not be practical or even possible. Hence if the sufferer needs to get around, he should do so with the help of a wheelchair or crutches, or even a walking stick!
Ice: Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory. The extreme cold constricts the blood vessels, increasing the blood pressure in the affected area and thus reducing the swelling in the process. Ideally an ice pack should be applied on the affected foot for about 20 minutes every couple of hours for 48 to 72 hours after the sprain. Some may not be able to bear the extreme cold for 20 minutes straight. They should apply it for at least 10 minutes at a stretch, but they need to apply it every hour. If you do not have an ice pack, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables or you can wrap a few ice cubes in a washcloth and use that. Please make sure that the ice cubes are not in direct contact with your skin, as it may cause some lasting damage.
Compression: Every pharmacy carries elastic compression wraps and your first aid kit is not complete without one. The wrap will not protect the area from injuries, however it will help distribute the weight in your ankles. The wrap should be comfortably placed and should never be too tight. If it is too tight, it may actually cause some additional damage to the area. Your compression wrap is a little too tight if you feel the following symptoms after putting it on:
▪ Increased swelling
▪ Tingling sensation
▪ Increased pain
▪ The tips of your toes turn blue.
Elevation: Elevating the foot above the heart for about three hours every day for at least three days go a long way towards reducing the swelling and the bruising from an ankle sprain.