The Summer Time Killjoy; The Ankle Sprain & Tips on How To Care for The Injury
If you love summer, then you probably love all the activities that come with the season. The summer promotes activities like walking, beach volleyball, swimming, and running. All activities are healthy and fun, but if you are not careful injuries can occur that will hinder your ambitious summer plans. Most frequently, as a Medical Doctor at AFC Urgent Care in Natick, Massachusetts, I see sports injuries that have resulted from playing sports on the beach or in the backyard. The most common injury I have seen the past few summers has been the ankle sprain. While common, treatment has evolved over time. Here are a few tips you can follow when spraining your ankle:
Icing the injury immediately after the injury is one of the most effective ways to prevent swelling and enhance healing. Ideally, patients should apply an ice pack for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 2 to 3 days. After the pain is gone, patients should still ice daily until all symptoms have subsided.
KEEP IT ELEVATED
After an ankle sprain, if possible, patients should elevate their ankle when sitting or lying down. Elevation of the injured area should be for 24 to 48 hours after the injury. Elevation above the heart will help reduce swelling. Keeping your ankle elevated after an injury serves two purposes. The first purpose is to keep the blood from rushing to the ankle and causing inflammation. The second reason is to promote rest of the injured ankle. Once sprained, patients should immobilize the ankle for a short period of time to assure that no further injuries occur.
TAKE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICINE
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help with inflammation. In most countries, like the United States, these drugs can be found over the counter and do not need a prescription. The term “nonsteroidal” distinguishes these drugs from steroids, which require prescriptions and have interactions that need to be reviewed by a physician. Patients taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications should make sure they are not allergic and verify that the medication will not adversely interact with the other medications they are taking.
SEE A MEDICAL DOCTOR
Often muscle soreness is delayed by 24-48 hours with an ankle injury, so the real damage may not be apparent right away. After the injury, especially if there is a concern for fracture, you should see a physician immediately. Most injuries resolve within 5-7 days but some ankle sprains may be worse than others. Gentle immobilization and initiation of immediate appropriate therapy is important to maximize quick healing. Sometimes x-rays are needed if there is tenderness and/or pain over the bones of the ankle when examined. Generally if there is an inability to bear weight, a physicians evaluation should be sought immediately.
THE FINAL WORD
Special precautions must be taken with children whose growth plates are vulnerable and have not yet fused. Younger children in general should always be seen by a physician after any injury. Conditioning and cyclic stretching are the best ways to avoid injury in any part of the body, but more specific to this article; ankle injuries. If you have had your ankle sprained and need medical assistance, come see me at AFC Urgent Care in Natick, Massachusetts today.