What to Do When You Get an Ankle Injury
Ankle injuries are common medical conditions in which one or more of the ligaments, bones or tendons of the ankle are injured.
While ankle injuries can be caused by simply walking on an uneven surface, they are most commonly considered a sports injury and are seen most often in men between the ages of 15-24 years.
However, tripping or falling, walking or running on uneven surfaces, loose-fitting footwear, landing awkwardly on the feet, and weak or lax ligaments that join together the bones of the ankle joint can also lead to ankle injuries.
Signs You Have An Ankle Injury
The signs of an ankle injury include sudden and severe pain, inability to walk or bear weight on the injured joint, tenderness, swelling and bruising. Following an injury, the ankle joint may also be warm to touch.
When external force creates excessive stress on ligaments, muscles, tendons or bones of the ankle, it can result in injury.
Ankle injuries are usually of three types, namely: sprains, strains and fractures.
- A sprain is damage to the ligaments
- A strain refers to damage to the muscles and tendons
- A fracture describes a break in one or more bones. Ankle fractures may be either partial or complete. A partial ankle fracture denotes that the bone is partially cracked and is not split into two. Diagnosis of an ankle injury is usually made by an X-Ray or MRI.
First aid for an ankle injury can be carried out by remembering “R.I.C.E”: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation:
- Rest: It’s important to rest the ankle to prevent further damage and keep weight off of it.
- Ice: Using ice will help slow or reduce the swelling and provide a numbing sensation that will ease the pain.
- Compression: Wrapping the injured ankle with an elastic bandage will help keep it immobile and care must be taken to see that the band must not be too tight.
- Elevate: Elevating the injured ankle to at least the level of your heart will reduce swelling and pain.
One of the best ways to treat an ankle injury is to immobilize it using a cast or splint. Anti-inflammatory drugs, or natural alternatives to NSAIDs, can help reduce the pain.
Surgery may be needed to repair a severely fractured ankle; following which, physical therapy is advised to improve the range of motion, strength and balance. An ankle brace may be provided as a support during activities.
Dr. Meredith Warner is a board certified, Fellowship Trained Foot and Ankle, Orthopedic surgeon practicing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Warner is committed to offering her patients an accurate diagnosis along with a comprehensive treatment plan in order to get them back to a pain-free life.
Dr. Meredith Warner specializes in the treatment of orthopedic issues, providing operative and non-operative treatment plans of orthopedic problems, including musculoskeletal pain such as chronic back, neck and foot pain, reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle, arthritis, diabetic, hammer toe, bunion, wound care, work injuries, fitness and nutrition and osteoporosis issues.