An ankle sprain? Here is what to do
It is essential to intervene immediately with a suitable ointment. Those who do certain sports know it well. But it is also enough to “put a foot down badly” to get a distortion that, if not immediately treated properly, can be painful for a long time.
The ankle sprain, what we normally call “crooked”, causes swelling and pain, sometimes very intense.
Usually it’s nothing serious. In any case it is good to take the appropriate measures as soon as possible to avoid that the symptoms last over time, limiting our daily activities, or that even more troublesome consequences arise.
Here’s what happens
When the ankle joint is subjected to a too abrupt or incorrect movement there is a temporary modification of the joint. This induces injuries to the surrounding structures (joint capsules, ligaments, tendons, vessels).
Typically pain appears, followed by swelling which tends to widen to the surrounding areas.
Depending on the extent of the trauma, more or less intense fluid (edema) and hematoma may occur if blood vessels have been broken.
After any trauma, even if mild and apparently trivial, it is always good to carefully evaluate the symptoms and how the affected part occurs.
Even a non-violent retort, if not properly treated, can cause pain and discomfort for a long time.
To establish the severity of the distortion, it is often sufficient to pay attention to certain signs.
First of all, if swelling does not appear we are lucky: the trauma has been mild and will pass quickly.
In these cases the pain usually lessens within a few minutes and does not compromise the movement of the ankle.
But even if the pain is a bit more intense and protracted, we struggle to walk and in the evening the ankle swells, but there are no other signs that may indicate significant injury, just take the right measures to resolve the situation.
On the contrary, if the swelling appears immediately, there is a shedding of blood and the pain is such as to prevent any movement of the ankle it is advisable to go to the emergency room to exclude a rupture of the ligaments or a bone fracture.
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Ice, ointment and rest
If we do not find ourselves in the situation described last, we can take care of our articulation alone with some simple measures to be taken as quickly as possible to speed up healing times.
Our aim will be to reduce pain and swelling and recover the movement of the joint as soon as possible.
First of all, apply ice immediately and stay at rest with the leg raised. The cold should be kept for twenty minutes, then paused and then repositioned the ice on the ankle several times, usually at intervals of 30-60 minutes.
An anti-inflammatory and analgesic ointment can help to alleviate pain and stop inflammation by speeding up the healing process. In these cases, topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen-based gels, diclofenac or ketoprofen, are widely used, which are quickly absorbed by the skin and can relieve pain and reduce the inflammation.
These drugs are applied directly on the distortion with a gentle massage that facilitates the absorption at the local level, thus going to act where necessary, maximizing effectiveness and reducing the risk of side effects.
A bandage can help
To facilitate healing it is also good to wrap the ankle and hold it up, to keep the joint at rest, but care must be taken to avoid too tight bandages that totally prevent movement. In fact, compression must be perceptible, but not excessive to allow adequate blood circulation throughout the foot: if the fingers tend to redden / darken or you feel tingling or pain in points of the foot other than those affected by the trauma, the bandage must be redone immediately, leaving it a little slower.
Complete recovery of function and movement can vary from 3 to 5 weeks, but the pain should be reduced already in the first days. It is important to keep in mind that if in the following days the pain persists in an important way and, in addition to the difficulties of movement, spills or edema, both extensive and dark, it would be better to be seen by a specialist for a more in-depth assessment.