Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Injury Info: Sprained Ankles

This past weekend my family had a neighborhood bbq with a few families. It was a fun time with lots of friends. But when you get over 40 people in a backyard, it’s pretty inevitable that SOMEONE will get hurt. My brother-in-law drew the short stick.


(this isn’t his ankle, but it looked a lot like that!)

He was just shooting some hoops with my other brother-in-law when he came down on his foot the wrong way. That’s all it takes!

When someone rolls an ankle, the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are stretched and pulled apart. Ligaments are tissues that can tear with a certain amount of stress. A tear in a ligament is a sprain. Sprains come in a variety of different types and degrees of severity and require a great deal of attention. Without appropriate treatment, an ankle sprain may take months to heal.

So…what do you do?

First of all, don’t panic. That makes everything worse.

After looking at the injury and determining just how bad it is, if the person isn’t in a safe place to sit for a while, get some help to move them. (For example, my brother-in-law sitting at the base of the basketball hoop wasn’t ideal!)

After moving him we got a chair to rest his foot up on while he lay on the ground…the key here is ELEVATION! Getting your ankle above your heart will significantly help reduce swelling and pain.


Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, is a good idea to ease the aching and throbbing that can occur.

From there, it is time to ICE. Soft ice packs are ideal because they can form over the ankle and you get the most benefit. Icing helps reduce swelling, and is most important the first 24-48 hours. After the initial injury and the pain starts to go down a bit, start icing for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.

Following that 24-48 hour period of icing, you can also try hot and cold therapy. Get two big buckets (my family uses coolers) and fill one with ice water and one with hot water (not too hot to put your foot in, but hot enough to feel it). Then immerse your foot in cold for 10 minutes, then hot for 10 minutes, then off. You can repeat this a few times. The change in temperature helps get blood flowing through the injury to promote healing.


Once you are able to start moving around more it is important to keep some kind of COMPRESSION on the ankle. This is because once you start moving, swelling can increase because of the blood flow going down the foot. Wrap the ankle tight enough to feel support, but not tight enough to cut off circulation.


Finally, make sure to take adequate time to REST the ankle. Your body needs time to heal and doing things too fast will prevent your ankle from healing completely, thus making you more vulnerable to future injury.

So, when all else fails, just remember RICE!


~Do you have any good sprained ankle stories?

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