What is a sprain?
A sprain is one of the most common sports injuries. It occurs when the collagen fibers in the joint capsule or the surrounding ligaments and muscles are severely overstretched. It is often accompanied by bleeding, swelling and small tears.
What does a sprained ankle look and feel like?
The signs of a sprain are pain, swelling of the joint, bruising and limited mobility of the joints. As a general rule, the more swollen the ankle is, the worse the injury. If you can still stand and walk on the ankle after twisting it, it’s likely that nothing’s broken. Nevertheless, it is advisable to consult your doctor, a sports doctor or an orthopedic specialist to rule out a ruptured ligament or a broken bone.
Ankle sprains often occur when playing basketball or when jumping or jogging on uneven ground. Some people have weak ligaments and are more susceptible to sprains than others. People with high-foot arches, delayed muscle reaction or weak muscles are affected more often.
How to prevent sprains
Sprains are frequently suffered during sports. But there are products we can wear to prevent them (e.g. supports, sports compression socks or wrist guards). These products stabilize the joints and ensure that the joints are not sprained so easily. Sports compression socks are available from well-stocked sports shops. Ask for CEP® socks. These not only stabilize the joints, but they also boost athletic performance. In addition, they promote rapid regeneration after training. Another good tip: make sure you wear suitable and safe footwear.
Recovery from an ankle sprain
Once the foot has been twisted, you should heed the RICE rule for first aid:
- R = Rest
- I = Ice (cooling)
- C = Compression
- E = Elevate
As with most sports injuries, you should stop doing whatever you were doing straight away. Start to cool the affected joint immediately. This makes blood vessels constrict, so less fluid leaks into the tissues and the swelling stays minor. Cooling also suppresses the inflammatory reaction, keeps bruising local and relieves pain.
Wrap an elastic bandage around the joint under slight tension. During the acute phase, it’s best to combine the pressure dressing with an icepack. Your doctor can also prescribe a medical device if need be. For example, medi supports such as Levamed or Levamed Active are suitable for this. These combine compression with a massaging effect that promotes the healing process.
Depending on the degree of severity of the injury, there are also orthoses for the ankle joint. The latest ankle product from medi® is the Levamed Stabili-tri, a modular ankle orthosis that can be flexibly adapted to the course of healing, thus making it possible to provide functional (phase-adapted) care.
Treatment for a sprain is usually simple. The pain recedes within a few days and you can fully weight-bear on the joint after three months at the latest. However, in some cases, ligamentous injuries and swelling caused by a sprain can lead to chronic instability of the joint. In these cases, it is a good idea to use an ankle support with an extra strap (e.g. Levamed Active). This safeguards against recurrent sprain injuries.
Chronic ligamentous instability can lead to excessive wear and tear of the articular cartilage and the onset of osteoarthritis. This is why you are recommended to consult an orthopedic specialist or sports doctor, even if the sprain seems harmless.