Ankle sprains are the most common sports injuries but can also happen during normal daily activities. An ankle sprain happens when the ankle joint, which connects the bones of the lower leg with the foot, is injured. The ligaments surrounding the ankle are stretched or torn when you accidentally twist or turn your ankle in an unnatural way.
There are two types of ankle injuries: inversion and eversion injuries. Inversion injuries are the most common and happen when the foot rolls inward. Eversion injuries, on the other hand, don’t occur often. It is also known as a high ankle sprain and happens when the foot twists outward.
Causes of an Ankle Sprain
A sprain occurs when the ligaments of your ankle are forced to stretch beyond their normal range of motion. This forces your ankle joint out of its normal position, turning the foot inward or inverted. Ankle sprains can happen to anyone irrespective of age. This kind of injury often happens in the following ways:
Stepping on an uneven surface – walking or running on irregular surfaces like an uneven terrain or a field with holes, can cause you to twist your ankle.
Awkwardly landing on your foot – you can twist your ankle when jumping or pivoting, stepping up or down, running, or when doing simple tasks like getting out of bed.
Participating in sports – you can twist your ankle when participating in sports activities that require rolling, jumping, cutting action or twisting of the foot. These include playing soccer, basketball, football, tennis, and trail running. Also, someone could step or land on your foot when playing. You are taking a risk with sports ankle support.
Engaging in physical activity or doing exercises – you can sprain your ankle when exercising, running, hiking or climbing.
Wearing improper shoes – ill-fitting shoes or shoes that aren’t fit for physical activity like high-heels can cause you to twist your ankle.
How to Know if You Have an Ankle Sprain
When you sprain your ankle, tissues surrounding the ankle are injured which causes inflammation. Depending on the severity of the injury you will experience pain especially when you try to stand on the affected foot. You may also experience swelling, bruising and tenderness as well as instability in the ankle and a restricted range of motion.
Home Treatments for an Ankle Sprain
In most cases, an ankle sprain isn’t severe. However, before making any home care decisions, it is advisable to speak to your doctor first. If you have a mild sprain, you may be able to treat it at home. The RICE method is the recommended way of dealing with a sprained ankle at home. RICE stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate.
Rest – you need to rest your ankle and avoid putting any weight on your foot. If you don’t want to limp or hop around, you can use crutches.
Ice – For the first two days after injury, ice your ankle for 20 to 30 minutes every day to reduce swelling.
Compress – wrap the ankle gently, not tightly. You can use an elastic bandage or wear a brace to support the ankle
Elevate – for the first 48 hours, raise your foot higher than your heart when lying down to increase blood flow.
When to See a Doctor
Go to the emergency room if you are in a lot of pain, bleeding, and the ankle is severely swollen, numb or has changed color. If your ankle seems dislocated or deformed and you can’t put any weight on it, you should see a doctor.
Spraining your ankle is painful and can take a while to heal. So be careful when exercising, wear the correct shoes for an activity, pay attention to surfaces you are walking on and warm up before exercising. If you sprain your ankle, be sure to call your doctor because if left untreated, an ankle sprain can lead to instability and long-term pain.