Ankle sprains can happen when you least expect them to. While most people can easily recover from them, some ankle sprains can be quite painful. When there is extensive damage to your ankle joints, you might have to stay on the sidelines for a couple of days until it heals.
While you might think that minor ankle injuries can simply be shrugged-off in a few hours, you have to keep in mind that the lack of proper treatment can cause life-long problems. Ankle sprains need to heal correctly. Without proper care, one might suffer from recurring pain. It is also possible for your ankle joints to become weak and unstable, increasing your risk for re-injury.
So you can easily avoid all these, it is very important that you follow certain protocols for its treatment. The gold standard when it comes to first aid response for sprains is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation or RICE. Most of the components of this treatment procedure are pretty explanatory, that is, except for compression. Compression is very important because this component basically forms the backbone of the whole treatment. Without the proper utilization of compression, your ankles may swell, undergo inflammation, and be in a lot of pain.
To help you know how to treat ankle sprains with a compression wrap, here’s a couple of things that you need to know.
Understanding What is a Sprained Ankle
The ankle has a joint that connects your foot to the rest of your leg. To allow proper movement and rotation of your foot, the ankle bones are supported by three ligaments. Ankle sprains happen when one or all of these ligaments get stretched or torn as a result of a sudden movement, an unexpected increase in pressure, or improper foot placement.
To help you understand what an ankle sprain is, here are some of the symptoms that you might experience:
If one of the ligaments in your ankle is torn or injured, it might be difficult for you to walk or put pressure on the affected foot. With minor ankle sprains, you might still be able to walk, but the injury will limit how much you may move your ankle.
A torn ligament in your ankle will lead to swelling. This is especially true if you do not compress the area right away. The ankle may get swollen, and it may also develop inflammation and bruising in a matter of hours depending on the severity of your injury.
Pain and Weakness
Even if you no longer mobilize your injured ankle, the injured area may still continue to throb with pain. The area may also become weak and your ankle will be unable to support your body weight properly.
Redness or Discoloration
A sprain will cause your body to pump more blood towards the affected area. This will result in redness especially when blood vessels have also been torn. It is also possible for you to feel the warmth around your ankles as blood continues to pool around the injury.
The Three Classifications of Ankle Sprains
Grade 1 Ankle Sprains
Grade 1 ankle sprains happen when there is a partial tear of your ligaments around the ankles. There may be swelling around the area and you may feel tenderness. The ankle is still stable and you may still be able to move and add pressure on your foot with minimal pain.
Grade 2 Ankle Sprains
Grade 2 ankle sprains are characterized by an incomplete tear in the ligament. You may have difficulty moving your foot or walking. Pain may be felt around the ankle area and swelling will develop. You will feel unstable, the area will have discoloration, and you might lose the ability to use your foot until it recovers.
Grade 3 Ankle Sprains
Grade 3 ankle sprains occur when there is a complete tear in the ligament. If this happens, there will be a loss of the ligament’s integrity. There will be severe swelling and discoloration in the area. You will be very unstable and you will not be able to walk or put even the slightest pressure on the ankles.
Common Causes of Ankle Sprains
Some of the common causes of ankle sprains include the following:
- Putting your foot the wrong way as you run or as you step down
- Stepping unexpectedly through a hole or on an uneven surface
- Stepping on someone else’s foot or on an object especially during play
- Wearing high heels or ill-fitting shoes
- Having stiff ankles
- Doing sports or other strenuous activities
Benefits of Using Compression on Ankle Sprains
Compression wraps are also known as compression bandages. As a staple in all first aid kits, it is an inexpensive way to treat minor sprains and strains. Many experts highly recommend that you use compression as soon as possible for minor injuries. This is because even without medication or ice, using compression on minor injuries may fix the problem or greatly improve your chances for proper healing.
Here are a few benefits of using a compression wrap for ankle sprains:
1) It may help reduce the risk for edema
Ankle sprains often develop swelling. This is especially true when your ligaments or blood vessels get torn or when the sprain is severe. By adding a compression wrap, pressure may be restored in the area, pushing excess fluids and blood to other areas that are not swollen.
2) It may help reduce pain
Pain is always a given when dealing with sprains. But with the help of a compression wrap, the proper blood flow may be maintained. This helps prevent fluids from leaking into the surrounding areas and this also helps to stop the progression of pain.
3) Inflammation and bruising
A sprain that is left untreated may develop inflammation and bruises. If this happens, the minor sprain will now take a long time to heal and recover. But by using a compression wrap early on, inflammation may be staved. Bruising may also be prevented by allowing blood to drain to other areas instead of collecting and causing discoloration in one spot.
4) It may help speed up recovery
By maintaining the integrity of the blood vessels, your body may continue to provide vital nutrients and oxygen towards the damaged tissues. This will allow your ankles to have an increased rate of recovery.
5) It may help provide support
Having a sprained ankle may make it very hard for you to walk. To help improve your mobility, you need to make use of a compression wrap to help provide support for your joints. A compression wrap, when used properly, may also help decrease the pressure on your ankles so you won’t feel too much pain.
How to Treat Ankle Sprains
1) With the rolled compression wrap in hand, hold the injured ankle at a 90-degree angle. Begin to put the wrap just below your toes, making sure that the end of the wrap is at the side of the foot. You should then wrap the bandage around your foot once or twice, making sure to pull it lightly so that it will be a bit tight.
2) As soon as the loose end is secure under the wrap, pull the bandage diagonally from the bottom, across the top portion of your foot, and towards the opposite side of your ankle. Cover the wrap around the ankle.
3) Wrap the ankle and the bottom of your foot a few times in a figure 8 pattern. Continue to cover the ankle and the sole of your foot using this pattern. Make sure that you move the wrap towards the calf and the heel for better support and coverage.
4) The wrap should cover the entire foot with the upper portion of the wrap covering at least three to four inches above the ankle. Secure the other loose end with a fastener or by tucking it in properly. The wrap should provide adequate pressure and support but it should not hinder proper blood circulation towards the foot.
Common FAQs When Dealing with Ankle Sprains
1) Should I compress overnight?
The answer depends on how severe the swelling and the pain is. For minor ankle sprains, it might not be necessary to compress it overnight for as long as you allow your foot to rest and for as long as you elevate it properly with a pillow.
But for severe ankle sprains, you might want to keep the compression wrap in place. This will allow your foot to have adequate blood circulation and it will also help stave off swelling. Just make sure that the wrap is not put on too tight around the affected area.
2) When should I start moving my ankle?
While rest is an integral part of the first aid treatment for ankle sprains, you should know that allowing your foot to move as soon as it is possible is important. Doing so may help the ligaments in your ankle to heal properly and it may help you to recover faster.
So for Grade 1 and possibly for Grade 2 ankle sprains as well, it might be best if you replace rest with optimal loading and a little bit of exercise. Just make sure to avoid overexerting the injured ankle and ensure that it is properly protected with a compression wrap so you may avoid worsening the injury.
3) When should I stop putting Ice?
According to some studies, while rest may be replaced with exercise and protection, the application of ice, compression, and elevation should be maintained until you regain mobility and function of your ankle or up to 48 hours.
Aside from being a good pain reliever, ice has also been known to help patients recover faster than those who have not undergone cold treatments. Just make sure that you avoid using ice for more than 20 minutes and be sure to continue to apply the compression wrap afterward.
4) When should you go to the emergency room?
You have to keep in mind that the use of compression wraps for ankle sprains is limited to being a first-aid response. While your ankle will greatly benefit from the application of RICE as soon as possible, severe ankle sprains might require immediate medical intervention. This is especially true in Grade 3 ankle sprains where there is a complete tearing of the ligament which might lead to internal bleeding.
So you can avoid further injuries, here are a few pointers that you need to remember so you will know when to get medical attention at the emergency room.
■ Go to the emergency room whenever there is severe pain, swelling, and or bruising
■Go to the emergency room whenever there is bleeding around the ankles or when there is numbness
■ Go to the emergency room when your foot begins to have discoloration
■Go to the emergency room if putting even the slightest pressure or weight on your foot will cause a lot of pain.
Taking care of your ankles is very important. So you can avoid ankle sprains, it would be best that you allow your ankles to warm up through simple stretching exercises. If you are someone who does a lot of walking, running, or sports, it would be a good idea to provide support to your ankles by making use of a compression wrap before any injuries happen.
For ankle sprains, the application of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation or RICE should be a priority. You need to use a compression wrap to help stabilize the injured ankle and to help you avoid swelling and bruising. Compression wraps can also help increase recovery and it may also help reduce pain. Always seek medical attention if the sprain is severe or whenever major swelling or bleeding develops around the area.
If you have been suffering from ankle sprains, or if you want to provide protection for your ankles, check out some of our premium compression wraps so you can get the support that you need.