Sprains in the ankle are one of the most common foot injuries. In fact, about 25,000 people in the world sprain their feet daily. Children can have ankle sprains while they play and adults can have them by accident during sports or when they lose their balance and trip over.
When your ankle is sprained, one or more ligaments on the outer side of your ankle is either stretched or torn. It can vary in severity. Some sprains go away on their own while some even swell and make it hard for a person to stand on his feet. Sometimes, it is also very difficult to determine whether it is really an ankle sprain or a bone fracture.
If this is the case, immediate medical attention is needed.
How You Sprain Your Foot
You are most likely to sprain your ankle when you have your heel up and your toes to the ground because this position puts the ankle’s ligament in tension. An ankle sprain can either be inward (inversion sprain) or outward (aversion sprain). The latter is more severe than inversion sprain because the tendons or ligaments are seriously injured. You may even hear a popping sound when you sprain your ankle outward.
Symptoms of Foot Sprain
Depending on the severity, foot or ankle sprain usually manifest similar symptoms including:
- Tenderness and pain on the arch area of the foot. You can also feel pain at the sides, bottom, or top of your foot.
- Pain when trying to walk or doing an activity.
- Bruising of the foot.
- Swelling of the foot.
- Not being able to carry weight on your foot, which usually signals sever damage.
Treatment of Sprained Foot
A sprained ankle usually heals on its own within a few weeks while a more severe form can last up to 2 months with pain on the turf toe subsiding in about 3 weeks. Now, to get relief for ankle sprain, just keep in mind the RICE method.
Stop any physical activity right away once you have sprained your ankle, keeping your foot still when possible.
Get an ice pack and put it on your sprained foot for about 20 minutes at least 2-3 times daily. Do not put ice directly on your foot because it may cause cold burn.
The next step is to compress the affected area using an elastic bandage or an elasticated tubular bandage, which can be availed in pharmacies. Wrap it around your feet tight enough to protect it from further movement but loose enough to keep blood circulating. Remember to remove the bandage before you sleep.
To help the swelling go down, make sure to elevate your sprained foot and support it with a pillow. If your leg is swollen too, avoid positions that keep your leg un-raised for long periods.
As an additional treatment, you can also take over-the-counter Ibuprofen and Paracetamol to alleviate pain.
Precautions after an Ankle Sprain
For the foot sprain to heal faster, you must protect yourself from further HARM.
Heat: hot baths, heat packs, or saunas are big nos.
Alcohol: avoid drinking alcohol after spraining your foot because it will only worsen swelling and bleeding. It also slows down the healing process.
Running: along with any other form of exercise should also be avoided after spraining your foot or you will only do yourself more harm.
Massage: this is perhaps the most common misconception when it comes to treating sprained ankle. Many are guilty about this because they think that having their sprained foot massaged will lessen the pain and will help in the healing process. Truth is it only adds up to the swelling and bleeding.
Recovering from Sprained Foot
The recovery period for an ankle sprain depends on the severity of the injury. A mild to moderate ankle sprain should make you able to walk a week or two after the injury. Your ankle will also be back to its full strength in 6-8 weeks but it is recommended that you start sporting activities by the 12th week.
Generally, most people recuperate from foot sprain within 2-3 weeks, but there are a few who still feel discomfort, instability, and pain for months and even years after the injury. If this is the case, it is best to consult your medical practitioner to evaluate your condition further.
Rarely, a surgery is advised to treat ankle sprains.
Post Sprain Activities
You should only start walking or using your foot once the swelling and pain has subsided and then gradually increase your physical activity.
Initially, you will feel stiffness and soreness as you walk but don’t panic. This is normal because your foot’s ligaments and muscles are stretching and re-gaining their strength.
If you sought medical attention, you can also ask your therapist about certain exercises that can help strengthen your foot muscles and ligaments. These can also help prevent further injuries.
While you are still on the road to recuperating from foot sprain, you should take extra precautions so as not to severe your injury. Make sure to wear comfortable protective shoes. Avoid walking barefoot or wearing flip flops as these will only aggravate your condition.
If you are beginning to do light activities and you feel sudden pain, stop it right away. Ice your foot after any activity to ease discomfort. However, the safest way to do post sprain activities is still to ask for expert advice regarding it.
In most cases, pain and swelling due to ankle sprain is temporary. You just have to know the first aid treatment and the proper ways to deal with it while you are recovering. Just like in any other health conditions, having the right knowledge can save you from further harm.
We do hope that all these information can help you and your loved ones who may be suffering from foot sprain while you’re reading this article. Next time you will perform physical activities, you would know how to be more careful so as not to sprain your foot.