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Ankle Injuries

Ankle Sprain

Although often associated with women in high-heeled shoes, ankle sprains are a common ailment for all sorts of athletes. Ankle sprains are just one of several common orthopedic health injuries that affect millions of people each year.

What is an ankle sprain, exactly? An ankle sprain is an orthopedic injury to one of the ligaments found in the ankle region. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that hold the bones together. Although ligaments are flexible, all it takes is a sudden twist for them to stretch too far or snap entirely resulting in a painful strain and/or sprain.

Common conditions that may result in a sprained ankle generally include if your foot lands on the ground at an angle, or with too much force. Your chances of spraining an ankle increase if you:
  • Have had previous ankle sprains.
  • Walk, run, or play on uneven surfaces.
  • Wear shoes that donít fit well or that lack proper foot support.
  • Play sports that require sudden changes in direction, like football, soccer, and basketball.

What Does an Ankle Sprain Feel Like?

Typical symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
  • Ankle pain, which can range from mild to severe.
  • Swelling of the ankle or surrounding region.
  • A popping sound during the injury.
  • Difficulty moving the ankle.
  • Bruising.
  • Instability of the ankle.

Ankle sprains are divided into three grades. People with Grade I sprains may still be able to walk without even pain or with a limp. Individuals with Grade III sprains are often in so much pain that they canít walk at all or at least not without severe pain.

To diagnose an ankle sprain, your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination. X-rays may also be in order to rule out the possibility of a complete break to the ankle.

Whatís the Treatment for an Ankle Sprain?

To speed the healing process of a sprained ankle, you can:
  • Use orthopedic ankle braces or ankle stirrups to give your ankle additional support.
  • Compress your ankle. Use an elastic bandage to keep down swelling. Start wrapping at your toes and work back towards your leg. For proper compression of moderate to severe ankle sprains an orthopedic ankle brace or support may be required.
  • Avoid putting weight on the injured ankle. If the pain is severe, you may need crutches until it the sprain has healed.
  • Ice your ankle to reduce pain and swelling for 20 to 30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days, or until the pain subsides.
  • Elevate your ankle on a pillow whenever you are in a sitting or lying down position.
  • Practice stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them.

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