The first steps immediately after a sprained ankle are amongst most important ones.

Ankle sprains are among of the most common, but they can also happen anywhere in the body where there are ligaments supporting a joint.

But what is an ankle sprain?

A sprain, by definition, is a tear, strain or excessive stretching of a ligament. It is caused by a sudden movement, fall, blow or strong twisting of a joint, which makes it exceed its normal range of motion.

Ankle sprains are classified into three categories according to their signs and symptoms.

Classification of ankle sprains

Grade 1:

There is mild pain, the tendon is stretched or there may be a small fibrillary tear but there is little or no inflammation.

The functionality of the foot is maintained.

Grade 2:

The pain is moderate to severe, since there is a partial rupture of the ligament and, as a consequence, there is swelling and localised pain producing difficulty in walking.

Grade 3:

In this case the pain is severe with noticeable inflammation and swelling and a complete rupture of a ligament.

There is very little chance that you can walk, as well as a high probability that a fracture exists.

Sprain with submalleolar haematoma (grade 2)

First steps after a sprain

  • Never apply heat during the first 48 hours, as it will increase the edema and the bruising, making the area more painful and swollen.
  • Never apply a compressive bandage in excess and keep your body at rest.
  • Place ice several times a day (10 to 15 minutes in each application) to reduce the swelling and bruising, if any.
  • Elevate the leg as much as possible to avoid excessive swelling of the foot.
  • Always consult a physiotherapist for guidance on the steps to be taken in rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation of a sprained ankle

Ankle sprains bring with them several alterations which must be treated immediately, and to do so, steps must be taken that the physiotherapist will implement according to the characteristics of each case.

Clear objectives must be taken into account and, as a first step, an attempt must be made to reduce pain. This is necessary to continue with the reduction of edema, proprioception, strengthening and stimulating the stability of the ankle.

The physiotherapist will choose to carry out the personalised treatment according to the evolution of the sprain and the characteristics of the patient. To do so, there are many techniques and methods to be applied according to the preparation and specialisation of the professional.

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