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What is sprained ankle? What are its causes, symptoms? How is it treated?

Ankle joint connects the foot with the lower leg. It is made up of three bones i.e. tibia, fibula and talus. Ligaments connect one bone to another bone. A sprain is a torn or stretched ligament. Ankle sprain causes ankle pain. When the foot is suddenly twisted or moved sideways, ankle sprain occurs. Ankle sprain depends on the extent of damage of ligament.
– In first degree sprain, ligaments are stretched but not torn and pain and swelling is minimal.
– In second degree sprain, ligament is partially torn, and pain and swelling are greater due to bleeding from torn tissue.
– In third degree sprain, surgery may be needed. Popping sound or twisted ankle may appear.

– Fall
– Injury
– Sudden twist
– Stretching or tearing of ligament.
– Stepping on irregular surface.
– Foot is turned inward or inverted.

– Pain
– Swelling
– Joint stiffness
– Difficulty in walking
– Redness
– Bruising
– Sometimes, numbness is also felt.

The best way to prevent ankle sprains is keeping your ankles flexible and your leg muscles strong. Diagnosis involves examination of nerves or arteries to the foot, X-rays and often CT-Scan are done.

– Initial treatment includes RICE therapy which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest your injury for the first 48 to 72 hours. Apply ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes on the area that is painful. Ice reduces swelling, redness and warmth. Do not apply ice directly. Wrap it in a cloth and then apply. Compression reduces bleeding and helps reduce swelling. Elevation uses gravity to reduce bleeding and swelling by allowing fluids to flow away from the site of injury.
– Do some strengthening and stretching exercises like pull backs, calf stretch and advanced calf stretch.
– You need to avoid certain activities for the next day which could increase the swelling such as hot packs, drinking alcohol, even medicine such as aspirin.
– Use anti-inflammatory medication such as buprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These can help in reduce the swelling in the ankle, and also reduce the amount of pain.
– It goes without saying that you need to avoid the activity that can cause the swelling and pain. Avoid stuff such as jogging, hiking, dancing (especially on uneven surfaces) till your doctor gives the go-ahead.
– You may need to go in for a program of exercises that stretch and strengthen your ankle and increase its flexibility (of course with the due approval of the doctor). This may involve physical therapy as well.

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