You love sports--running, playing tennis, basketball and more. Unfortunately, your active lifestyle runs the risk of injury, particularly to your ankles. Ankle sprains afflict three million Americans annually says the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, often leading to pain and even immobility. Here's what your podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Specialists of Connecticut advise to recognize, treat and prevent this common injury in Danbury, CT.
The symptoms of ankle sprains
Sprains involve pain and swelling after the supporting ankle ligaments are overstretched or torn. Drs. Treadwell, Davis and Jimenez, your Danbury, CT, podiatrists, say that swift twisting forces cause this injury when an individual is running forward on his or her toes, is moving quickly on an uneven surface such as grass, or walks off a step or curb. What results usually is:
- Difficulty bearing weight
Most of the time, sprains affect the outside or lateral portion of the ankle and often lead to instability or wobbliness when placing the foot on the ground.
What you can do to treat one
First, get off your feet. Do not continue to walk on the injured ankle. Call your Danbury, CT, podiatrist right away for first aid advice and to schedule a same-day appointment as needed. It's critical to assess the ankle as soon as possible because while most ankle sprains are relatively minor, some are serious injuries. Left untreated, they may lead to permanent ligament damage and problems with gait and balance.
Typically, the foot doctor recommends a simple treatment regimen to relieve the pain and swelling associated with a sprain. Likely, you've heard of the RICE protocol which consists of:
- Rest, or getting off the foot and staying off of it as much as possible
- Ice to the affected area--20 minutes on and 20 minutes off
- Compression with an elastic bandage
- Elevation of the ankle above heart level on a pillow or recliner
Additionally, your doctor may advise over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief.
When you come to the office
Your podiatrist will gently examine your ankle and check your range of motion. Then, you'll be X-rayed to assess the damage and look for any fractures.
Besides the RICE regimen, the doctor frequently advises a stabilizing soft cast or boot and use of crutches to relieve the pressure on the ankle. Stretching exercises and physical therapy rehabilitate and strengthen the foot and ankle. In very extreme cases, surgery is required to stabilize the three major ligaments.
If you're an active individual, warm up and stretch before running or going to the gym. Wear good quality, supportive shoes, and be sure to condition yourself if you are taking up a new activity such as tennis or racquetballl. "Weekend warriors" sprain their ankles frequently.
If you have questions or concerns about your ankles, please contact the experts at Foot & Ankle Specialists of Connecticut. In Plainville, call (860) 747-2200. In Danbury, phone (203) 748-2220, and in New Milford, (860) 355-3139.