Whether you are an athlete or working out constantly, an ankle injury is the most common type of body injury you’re likely to experience. This injury occurs in the ankle joint that is made up of the intersection of three bones; the lower extreme of your shinbone (tibia) and the other leg bone (fibula), with the talus bone. Ankle injuries can range from ankle sprains (a stretch, rapture or tear of its ligaments holding the bones together) or ankle dislocations and fractures. Recovery from these would depend on the location, type, complexity and the treatment administered. For instance, some fractures may need just some rest and protection, and others may require surgery followed by some weeks of rehabilitation. Highlighted below are some general tips on ankle therapy procedures.
1. Seek the doctor’s advice.
Following an injury, the goal of your recovery is to treat the symptoms and ensure full restoration of pain-free ankle function as before. Some types of fractures and sprains can be quite challenging, hence the need to seek your doctor’s advice on the most appropriate strategies you can incorporate to achieve these goals as well as the expectation.
2. Manage most symptoms with pain medications and rest.
Often, ankle fracture symptoms range from pain, bruising, tenderness and swelling. You can manage these by following this common “PRICE therapy”- (protection, rest, ice-applying wrapped ice, compression & elevation) for several days.
Pain killers obtainable over the counter such as Naproxen can also be taken upon the doctor’s advice. For complex ankle fractures, more aggressive measures may be required.
3. Weight bearing activities
These can be very helpful depending on how severe the injury is. If however your doctor recommends avoiding these, you can move on crutches for sometime. If the weight bearing is allowed, you can walk on rigid boots to provide stability but ensure you do not overload your bone. Full bone strength is usually regained depending on the injury and your age.
4. Resume to past activities gradually.
Whether you had an ankle surgery or a minor treatment, you can start to move your ankle soon and resume to normal activities, intensifying slowly as per the doctor’s advice. If the ankle begins to hurt, you need to rest to avoid further complications.
5. Doing exercises for strength building.
Once the fracture is stable, you may start doing physical exercises like stretching and strengthening exercises as the doctor would recommend. Incase the issue is complex, a physical therapist may be required to help in this. And due to the pain you may experience at first while practicing, you may as well ask for their advice on how well to manage it.
6. For any complications you may have like fever, increased pain, numbness etc, inform your doctor about it for these are likely signs of more serious complications. After these, some people may even develop chronic pain and arthritis afterwards.
7. Put measures to hinder future injuries.
Usually, the doctor can suggest ways of preventing future ankle problems. For an ankle fracture for instance, the measures may include cross-training, eating regular balanced diet i.e rich with vitamin D and calcium which are necessary for bone strength; together with any other supplements if need be.
After some recovery, do not stress the ankle bone too soon and whenever you feel pain during any activity, always stop and take some rest to avoid further problems.
For an ankle sprain, the following initial steps can be taken depending on the degree of tissue/ligament damage:
• Take some 24 to 48 hours rest to prevent more damage
• Apply some ice packs for around 15 to 20 minutes,and 3 to 4 times each day for the initial 24 to 72 hours, but avoid applying ice directly onto the skin
• To limit swelling, use a bandage (elastic) or wrap from the base of the toes to the top of the calf muscle, for the first 24 to 36 hours
• Use an air brace (or other ankle supporting device), to protect the ankle.
• Elevate the ankle/leg higher than the body trunk to limit any swelling 2 to 3 hours in the course of the day. Use pillows at the foot of the mattress or elevate the end of the bed with securely placed books/blocks of wood.
• Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin may relieve any pain and reduce any inflammation.
These may be followed by rehabilitation exercises and medical examinations, as it may seem necessary, to ensure full recovery.
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