Ouch! Here's How To Deal With A Sprained Ankle

Including how to cure it!
PHOTO: getty images

There’s huge chance na you’ve experienced it before: Habang naglalakad ka, or while playing sports, ‘tapos bigla ka na lang natapilok. You feel a sharp pain and suddenly, every step is a struggle. Ouch! Ang sakit ng sprained ankle, noh?

Unfortunately, sprains can occur even when you’re doing normal, everyday stuff. When you twist your ankle, your ligaments may stretch or tear. This bundle of tissues help stabilize your joints, and when sprained, naf-force siya beyond the normal range of motion. 

To learn more about it, check out this video from the University of Plymouth:

What causes it?

According to Mayo Clinic, sprains happen when your ankle moves out of its normal position, which can cause your ankle's ligaments “to stretch, partially tear, or tear completely." It’s usually caused by the following:

  • An ankle twist caused by a fall
  • Awkwardly landing on your foot after jumping 
  • Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
  • Another person stepping or landing on your foot
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Why do you experience swelling and bruising when you sprain your ankle?

Alexander Lucci, DPT, ATC, a physical therapist and clinical director at Professional Physical Therapy in New York City, told Refinery29, that when a sprain occurs, your body sends white blood cells—the healing cells— to the affected area “in order to help repair the tissue.” He explained that the swelling comes from these cells and the injured blood vessels in the area. As for the bruising, it’s caused by the same injured blood vessels, and the white blood cells help repair the injured area “by forming scar tissue.”

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How do you know if it’s severe?

Doctors usually classify these injuries into three different grades. According to an article on Rush Copley by Dr. John Davine, M.D., sprained ankles are usually determined by the amount of force exerted on the area.

  • Grade 1 - This is when the ligament is stretched or slightly teared, and it exhibits mild tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. The ankle should also feel stable and it’s still possible to walk with minimal pain.
  • Grade 2 - This is more severe because the ligament is incompletely teared. Patients with this type of sprain also experience moderate pain, swelling, and bruising. Plus, the “damaged areas are tender to the touch and walking is painful.”
  • Grade 3 - The affected ligaments are completely teared and there is severe swelling and bruising. Also, walking is extremely painful because the ankle gives out and is unstable.
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How do you cure a sprained ankle at home?

For Grade 1 and Grade 2 sprains, doctors recommend doing the R.I.C.E.—rest, ice, compression, elevation—method immediately. Once injured, you should rest and immediately apply ice to the affected area. This keeps the swelling down and it should be done for 20 to 30 minutes, up to four times daily. Aside from this, the ankle should be elevated above the chest for at least 48 hours and it should be dressed in compression wraps "to immobilize and support the ankle." In some cases, a splint is needed for additional assistance. 

Take note: Protect your sprain by keeping the area still for the first few days after injury. 

When should you see a doctor for your sprained ankle?

Since it’s very common, most people don’t seek professional treatment for sprained ankles. Dr. Nelson SooHoo, MD, director of foot and ankle surgery for the UCLA Orthopaedic Surgery, says this is alright because most cases “heal with basic care that people can administer on their own.” However, when you experience “extreme bruising or swelling and an inability to bear weight on the foot without significant pain or when there doesn’t seem to be any improvement over the first several days after the injury,” you should seek appropriate medical attention, as this may lead to permanent instability. 

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When diagnosed, the doctor may require a cast or a brace for a couple of weeks, or you may need to resort to surgery. They may also prescribe some anti-inflammatory drugs to help the swelling and pain subside. 

How do you prevent yourself from spraining your ankle?

Nobody wants to intentionally sprain their ankle, right? While injuries like this are mostly caused by accidents, you can still take some precautions to make sure you don’t sprain your ankle. Here they are:

  • Wear good, stable shoes
  • Always warm up before workouts and physical activities
  • Try your best to walk on flat surfaces
  • Stretch and improve your ankle flexibility

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