What is acute ankle sprain?
The term acute applies to something that has happened recently (within the past few days). Also known as a “twisted ankle”, an ankle sprain normally involves the ligaments of the ankle being stretched, sprained or completely torn.
What are the symptoms of acute ankle sprain?
Pain is often the first symptom and you will find yourself limping to take the weight off your foot. As time progresses the foot may become swollen and depending upon the extent of the injury you may see some bruising around the ankle and even down to the toes.
How can ankle sprain occur?
Ankle sprains ‘normally’ happen in one of two ways.
- Walking on uneven ground, minding your own business, you might slip or miss your footing causing your ankle to turn in wards.
- Sports injury – either by a rapid change of direction or by coming into contact with another player while your foot is planted on the ground.
How to improve ankle sprain
The key with any acute injury is getting the correct treatment as soon as possible.
- Use ice to control the pain and swelling
- Wait 48 hours before taking anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen) to allow the body to start the healing process
- Use heat – this will cause blood vessels to expand and increase bleeding in the area.
- Continue to play sports – trying to play through an injury will only lead to reduced performance and ultimately you may have a much longer time away from sports as the injury just doesn’t heal.
Seated heel raise – when sitting keep your toes in contact with the ground and lift your heels up and down. This should be pain free and is intended to keep the calf muscles active which act as a pump to remove the swelling and bruising from the area.
Write the alphabet with your ankle – as it sounds, lift your foot off the floor and pretend you are writing the alphabet, or your name, with your foot. This is intended to keep the ankle joint from becoming stiff. The action will also help to move the swelling along, as the previous exercise.
Single leg stand – Every time you are waiting for the kettle to boil or brushing your teeth, stand on one leg and practice your balance. This will help prevent a similar injury happening in the future.
This is an injury that is best being assessed by a physio as soon as possible. You may only require one session but a thorough assessment will give you the confidence to return to normal activity much sooner. On rare occasions the ligaments may be completely torn and require surgical intervention. There is also the possibility that a bone in the ankle could be broken. A physiotherapist will be able to assess for this and refer you to the right medical practitioner if required.