How to Treat an Ankle Injury and Preventative Measures
How many times have you uttered a thankful sigh of relief after a “rolling over” of the ankle without incurring a sprain? If the ankle goes too far, either to the inside or outside, it will result in a sprain. The good news is that most sprains can be treated on site. There are three levels of sprains, of which the first two involve a stretch or partially torn ligament. These tend to be the most common, and though painful with some bruising, walking is tolerable, especially with the occasional help of a companion or a set of trekking poles. With proper care and taping, healing can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks.
Third-degree injuries, however, require immediate medical attention. Initial treatment is often referred to by the acronym, RICE: Rest by getting off the feet; Ice the ankle, either in packed snow, a cold stream or a wet t-shirt; Compress with an elastic wrap to prevent swelling; and Elevate by propping up the leg. RICE must be applied to the ankle for at least 20-30 minutes and then let re-warm for 15 minutes if the person attempts to walk. The process needs to be repeated every 2 to 4 hours for the first 24 hours. Subsequently, compression and ice should be applied for the next 48 hours, at least 3 times a day. It may take a day or longer before the injured person can walk very far, but ultimately that will be the decision of the individual.
Ankle fractures can be more severe than a sprain, and treatment requires a bit more skill. A fractured ankle can range anywhere from a simple break in one bone that does not prevent you from walking, to a compound fracture in which the bone pierces the skin and prevents putting any weight on the ankle for up to three months. In either scenario, make sure to immobilize the injured person and then apply a splint, which can be fashioned out of a straight piece of wood or a rolled-up blanket, in order to minimize any further damage to the surrounding tissues. Try to avoid moving the individual, but keep them warm and comfortable until medical help arrives.
There are preventative measures that can be taken at home, such as strengthening the muscles and staying in shape, and once on the trail, wear a good pair of boots to minimize the chances of any calamities.
Please see the suggested resources below for further reading, and check out our braces and supports for preventing injuries:
Do you have any tips for preventing or treating ankle injuries? Leave us a comment below!
The information in this blog post is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.