“Phew! It’s Just a Sprain!”

Almost every day at our office, someone comes in with an ankle injury. And just as often, they breathe a sigh of relief when our workup shows only a sprained ankle, not a broken one. However, recovery from a sprained ankle isn’t a walk in the park. Let me explain.

More than 30,000 ankle injuries happen daily in the US. In fact, sprained ankles account for almost half of all sports injuries. This applies to basketball, cheerleading, tennis, volleyball, soccer—the list goes on! Almost no sport is exempt from the dangers of a sprained ankle.

At the FAAWC, we see sports injuries daily. Over the years, we have treated thousands of sprained ankles, and all that experience and data provides us solid evidence that no one should just “walk it off.” Even if you follow your instinct to provide common-sense treatments such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation, you still might be doing this incorrectly.

Yes, RICE is still applicable and helpful, but only if you do it right. Most people do not take an adequate amount of rest initially, and worse, almost no one starts ankle rehabilitation. Many people also rush to take NSAIDs, but these should be avoided for the first three days after injury. This helps the body use its natural healing process to establish better recovery.

Most importantly, ankle sprains should be evaluated by a specialist within two days—five, at most. This allows for a proper assessment of the extent or grade of the injury, which will help dictate the best treatment plan. It is worth noting that the severity of pain and swelling you experience is not the best indication of how bad the injury is.  

Treatments for ankle sprains have evolved. No longer are prolonged periods of rest recommended. The emphasis now is on getting the ankle moving and gaining strength as soon as possible. This is best accomplished by a few visits to a physical therapist such as our team at Central Ohio Physical Therapy.

Remember, although most sprains will at least feel better within a couple weeks, you can’t neglect the long game. Ankle sprains ignored today are more prone to debilitating arthritis or instability years down the line. If you experience a sprained ankle, call the trusted podiatrists at the FAAWC. We are the best equipped to get you back to work or back in the game as quickly as possible. Call today!

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