On average, over nine million Americans sprain their ankle each year — that’s 25,000 per day. Of those, one million people head to the ER for the injury.
Sometimes, it’s obvious that an ankle injury warrants a trip to the ER (like in the case of an open fracture). However, if you have sprained your ankle without any lacerations or open fractures, you may still benefit from prompt medical attention.
If you’re suffering from an ankle injury, our experienced team at Arizona Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC recommends that you visit us. As a double-board certified provider, Dr. Samuel Cox excels in both the medical and surgical treatment of ankle problems — including sprained ankles.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of prompt care for sprained ankles.
Why prompt care is essential
Although it’s possible to pamper an injured ankle at home, it’s important to seek swift medical attention. First, a thorough examination can confirm that your pain is actually due to a sprained ankle. It’s possible that discomfort and pain are due to other injuries, such as a strained muscle or fractured bone.
In addition to receiving an accurate diagnosis, here are four additional reasons to seek prompt medical attention after an ankle injury:
- Untreated ankle sprains can contribute to problems later on. This includes chronic ankle instability — a feeling like your ankle will “give way” at any moment.
- Other injuries that occurred at the same time (e.g. a fracture) may not receive the care they need.
- Your ankle may not heal properly without professional medical care and/or rehabilitation.
Bottom line: Prompt medical attention ensures that you receive the right diagnosis, that all injuries from sprains to fractures are treated, and that you are set up on a healing path so that you can regain the function of your ankle once more.
How are sprained ankles treated?
One of the first things to do after hurting yourself is to employ the RICE strategy. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevate.
Immediately after injury, remove yourself from harm’s way, whether that’s on the basketball court or off to the side of the hiking trail. It’s important not to put any weight on your ankle at this time, especially if you don’t know if you have any fractures.
After your exam, Dr. Cox provides guidance on how long you’ll need to continue to rest your ankle.
If possible, ice the area. Cold compresses help to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Many first aid kits include one-time use cold compresses. If you don’t have any ice packs, look for something similar. A cold water bottle could suffice until you find a more suitable option. According to Mayo Clinic, icing during the first 48 hours is critical.
Wrapping your ankle with an elastic bandage can support your damaged ligaments as they heal. Supporting your ligaments helps to speed up your recovery. It’s important to wrap your ankle firmly but not too tight.
Elevating your foot above heart level helps to reduce swelling. When you recline on your couch or bed, prop your feet up while resting.
Prompt care addresses serious injuries
If your examination reveals that you have a serious sprain, Dr. Cox can provide you with the appropriate level of care you need. Whether you need an immobilization boot or surgery to repair a torn ligament, rest assured that you’ll get the appropriate care. Even though it’s tempting to lay low and ice your ankle at home, getting care now can prevent a host of unwanted complications from untreated injuries.
If you’ve sprained your ankle, we can help you feel better. Schedule an appointment by calling our Goodyear, Arizona clinic at 623-562-3825.