The most common type of ankle injury is a sprain. A sprain is stretching and tearing of ligaments (fibrous bands connecting adjacent bones in a joint.) There are many ligaments around the ankle and these can become damaged when the ankle is forced
into a postion not normally encountered.
The most frequently seen sprain occurs when weight is applied to a foot which is on an uneven surface, and the foot “rolls in” (inversion). Because the sole of the foot is pointing inward as force is applied, the ligaments stabilizing the lateral – or outside –
part of the ankle are stressed. Many patients report hearing a “snap” or “pop” at the time of the injury. This is usually followed by pain and swelling on the lateral aspect of the ankle.
THE MOST IMPORTANT INITIAL MANAGEMENT OF A SPRAIN IS,
Many of the problems resulting from sprains are due to blood and edema in and around the ankle. Minimizing swelling helps the ankle heal faster. The RICE regimen facilitates this.
Rest – no weight bearing for the first 24 hours after the injury (Possibly longer,
Ice – apply ice packs using a towel over a plastic bag to the area that is painful. Be careful
to avoid frostbite. Ice should be intermittantly applied for the first 24 hours.
Compression – an ACE bandage or other soft elastic material should be applied to the
ankle to help prevent the accumulation of edema.
Elevation – elevating the ankle helps in removing edema. By having the foot higher than
the hip (or heart), gravity is used to pull edema out of the ankle.
In the initial 24 hours, it is very important to avoid things which might increase swelling.