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Sprained Ankle

There's a good chance that while playing as a child or stepping on an uneven surface as an adult you sprained your ankle--some 25,000 people do it every day.

Sometimes, it is an awkward moment when you lose your balance, but the pain quickly fades away and you go on your way. But the sprain could be more severe; your ankle might swell and it might hurt too much to stand on it. If it’s a severe sprain, you might have felt a “pop” when the injury happened.

A sprained ankle means one or more ligaments on the outer side of your ankle were stretched or torn. If it is not treated properly, you could have long-term problems.

You're most likely to sprain your ankle when you have your toes on the ground and heel up (plantar flexion). This position puts your ankle's ligaments under tension, making them vulnerable. A sudden force like landing on an uneven surface may turn your ankle inward (inversion). When this happens, one, two or three of your ligaments may be hurt.

Tell your doctor what you were doing when you sprained your ankle. He or she will examine it and may want an X-ray to make sure no bones are broken. Depending on how many ligaments are injured, your sprain is classified as Grade I, II or III.

Treating your Sprained Ankle

Treating your sprained ankle properly may prevent chronic pain and instability. follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines:

  • Rest your ankle by not walking on it.
  • Ice it to keep the swelling down.
  • Compressive bandages immobilize and support your injury.
  • Elevate your ankle above your heart level for 48 hours.
  • The swelling usually goes down within a few days.

For a Grade II sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines and allow more time for healing. A doctor may immobilize or splint your sprained ankle.


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