Sprained Ankles: Treatment & Recovery Advice
A sprain is one of the most common ankle injuries, and usually occurs when your ankle has been forced out of its natural position, resulting in torn or stretched ligaments. There are three categories of sprain, ranging from mild to severe, so treatment and recovery vary in line with the seriousness of the injury. Keep reading to find out more about the different types of sprain, and get advice on treatment, rehabilitation and recovery.
What could cause a sprained ankle?
While sprains are often caused by sport or physical exercise, there are plenty of everyday activities which could also lead to a sprained ankle. Take a look at some of the key sprained ankle causes below:
- If you land badly after a jump, you could easily jolt your ankle and damage your ligaments.
- Taking a fall and twisting your ankle inwards – or rolling it outwards – could cause a sprain.
- Walking on uneven surfaces, such as cobbles, or stepping roughly off a high kerb.
- Prior injuries in the same area can leave your ankles slightly weakened, and vulnerable to future sprains.
- You could get a sprain if someone steps on your foot or ankle, or a heavy object lands on it.
Sprained Ankle Symptoms and Diagnosis
Suffering with any of the below symptoms? Then it’s likely you’re dealing with a sprained ankle. Some mild ankle sprains can be treated at home, but if you suspect it’s a bad sprain, don’t try and diagnose it yourself. Instead, seek out the opinion of a medical professional, in case it’s something more serious and to prevent any further damage.
– Redness or discoloured bruising
– Tenderness or weakness in the joint
– Poor range of movement
– Inability to bear weight
To properly diagnose a sprained ankle, your doctor will generally carry out a physical examination, to suss out which ligaments have been damaged, determine the extent of the injury and work out how best to treat it. They’ll be keen to test your range of movement, pain level and potentially do an X-ray, MRI or CT scan to double check whether you’ve fractured a bone.
The Three Types of Ankle Sprain
Grade 1 sprain: This is generally very mild, and there’s no serious impact on mobility. A grade 1 sprain is a minor strain on one or more ligaments, with an average recovery period of 2-3 weeks.
Grade 2 sprain: This is a moderate sprain that could be a partial tear of one of your ligaments, resulting in some pain and discomfort, as well as limited range of movement. The standard recovery time for a grade 2 sprain is between 3 and 6 weeks.
Grade 3 sprain: This is the most severe type of sprain, and occurs when there is a complete tear of one of more of your ligaments. A grade 3 sprain can cause a lot of pain, temporarily affect your mobility, and take up to 3 months to heal.
Sprained Ankle Treatment and Rehabilitation
As we mentioned earlier, the treatment and recovery plan for a sprained ankle tends to vary in line with the severity of your injury. For a mild (or grade 1) sprain, your doctor may advise you to treat it at home using the R.I.C.E method. Each letter in this handy acronym stands for one of four treatment steps:
– Rest. Avoid using your injured ankle and keep weight off it whenever possible.
– Ice. Put an ice pack on the area at regular intervals to prevent further inflammation.
– Compression. An elastic bandage or wrap can also keep swelling down and provide support.
– Elevation. Prop your injured ankle on a cushion or stool above heart level.
If you’re diagnosed with a more severe sprain, or your sprain doesn’t seem to be on the mend after a week or so, you’ll likely need further medical treatment.
After a doctor has examined the injury, you may be prescribed a walking boot or a brace to stabilise the joint and help the ligaments to heal. At this point, you might also be told whether the ankle is up to bearing any weight, and if it’s not, you’ll be given a pair of crutches.
Once you’ve had your initial appointment, a follow-up should be arranged a few weeks later to determine how your recovery is going, and whether you’re likely to need any physiotherapy to regain your usual level of strength and flexibility.
Best Mobility Aids for a Sprained Ankle
With a moderate or severe sprain, you might need to keep the weight off your ankle for the foreseeable, or at least limit it. If that’s the case, you’ll need a mobility aid to help you get around without causing further damage. Here are some of the walking aids most suited to grade 2 and 3 ankle sprains:
Being both convenient and relatively inexpensive, traditional crutches tend to be provided by default to patients with foot, ankle or leg injuries that impact mobility. Most conventional crutches are adjustable, and while they’re generally prescribed as a pair, a single crutch can also be used effectively to get around.
Also known as knee walkers, knee scooters generally run on four wheels, with handlebars to hold onto and a raised pad for you to rest your knee on, so your injured ankle is lifted up behind you. They can often be quicker and more comfortable to use than standard crutches, but also bulkier to carry with you.
If you’re keen to get back on your feet, the iWALK hands-free knee crutch is a foolproof choice. Traditional crutches have to be carried, but the iWALK hands-free knee crutch is actually worn on your injured leg, leaving both hands completely unencumbered. When this crutch is fitted, you put your weight on your knee, which is strapped to a comfortable padded platform – meanwhile, your sprained ankle is conveniently supported behind you.
With its intelligent structure and comfortable design, the iWALK hands-free knee crutch can even help to speed up your recovery by encouraging blood flow in the area, and keeping the muscles in your injured leg active.
Plus, with both hands free you won’t have any trouble carrying your shopping, picking up the phone, holding your toddler’s hand or getting up the stairs. In short, it’s a shortcut back to independence – see the full list of advantages over on our patient benefits page.
Don’t let your sprained ankle keep you from the things you love. Ditch conventional mobility aids and try the iWALK hands-free knee crutch! Get in touch with us today to find out more about the latest iWALK 3.0, and keep tabs on our social media to see people like you regaining their independence while recovering from an injury.