Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, which involves trauma to the ankle ligament. A sprain occurs when one or more of your ligaments have been stretched, twisted or torn, usually as a result of excessive force being applied to a joint. They often occur if you change direction or speed suddenly, fall and land awkwardly or collide with an object or person – such as when playing sports.
If you have ever sprained your ankle, then you will probably remember the initial pain, the considerable swelling and bruising. The swelling from a sprain will often occur soon after the injury, but the bruising may not show until later or it may not show at all. Bruising can sometimes occur some distance from the affected joint, as blood from the damaged tissue seeps along the muscles and around the joint before coming close to the skin.
It should be noted that ankle sprains take at least 12 weeks to heal.
When to visit your GP?
Most ankle sprains are relatively minor and can be cared for by self-treatment. However, you should visit your GP if you think you have a sprain and:
the pain is particularly severe
you cannot move the injured joint or muscle
you cannot put any weight on the injured limb, or it gives way when you try to use it
the injured area looks crooked or has unusual lumps or bumps (other than swelling)
you have numbness, discolouration or coldness in any part of the injured area
the symptoms have not started to improve within a few days of self-treatment
Ankle Sprain Self-Treatment Guide
Step 1 - RICE
Rest your ankle.
Ice (wrap ice cubes in a tea towel) and hold over the ankle for 5 - 20 minutes every 2 hours for 2-3 days, then daily for the next 3 days.
You can then bandage the ankle in a figure 8 with the heel in the centre of the figure 8, with a compression or elastic bandage.
Finally you should elevate your ankle to reduce the blood flow to the area, for the first 24 hours.
Step 2 - Immobilise joint
For next two weeks immobilise the joint by strapping (with Zinc Oxide tape) in a figure of 8 to support, stabilise and immobilise the ankle.
Step 3 - Cohesive bandage
Now switch to a cohesive bandage to allow more movement.
Step 4 - Post Acute
When there is no heat present (normally around day 3 or day 4 after you sprained your ankle), still support with a bandage, but start to contrast bath your ankle. Contrast bathing increases the blood supply to the ankle to support the healing process. You contrast bath, for 10 minutes every day, put your ankle in a bucket of cold water (20 degrees centigrade) for 2 minutes, then switch to putting your ankle in a bucket of hot water (40-50 degrees centigrade) for 2 minutes, keep repeating and finish on cold.
Step 5- Mobilisations
Mobilisation is the stage where you increase the range of movement of your ankle. You do then after step 4 and only when the movement is pain free.
Circle your ankle clockwise repeat 3 times
Circle your ankle anti-clockwise repeat 3 times
Lie down on your back, point your foot and your toes and then bend your foot up the ceiling and the same time straighten your toes - repeat 3 times.
Now sit on a char and draw the alphabet in the air with your foot this will move your ankle full a range of movement.
Once you have your full range of movement back, then you can start increasing your proprioception. You can stand on a pillow on one leg (your affected ankle), and build up the time until you feel that you stability is the same in both your legs.