As fall sports are in full swing, it is important that you know what to do in the case of an ankle sprain. This injury is one of the most common we see here in the Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy department. Unfortunately, what often begins as a mild injury can quickly become debilitating if it is not managed correctly. Here is what to do if your athlete experiences an acute ankle sprain.
Most of us have heard of “RICE” when it comes to managing ankle sprains. There is a reason for that! This handy saying still rings true, and if applied appropriately can decrease time away from sport. While there are many variants of this today, we at NCH like to encourage “PRICE”.
Protection: In order to avoid turning a minor injury into a major one, you need to stop what you’re doing. That may mean sitting out of the rest of a game or practice, or even using crutches to temporarily avoid weight bearing. If you have an athletic trainer on site, make sure you get evaluated!
Rest: Playing through pain is not going to help in the case of this acute injury.
Ice: Especially if you notice swelling, icing the area for 15-20 minutes can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling, all of which can keep you sidelined if they stick around!
Compression: This can also help to reduce swelling, of which the smallest amount can limit ankle motion, making it uncomfortable to walk, run and jump.
Elevation: If it isn’t clear yet, swelling is a bad thing.
While slightly repetitive, this rule is important! It can help to reduce further injury and start the healing process while you await further assessment. While it may be tempting to return to participation once pain and swelling resolve, not receiving the proper rehab places you at an increased risk for recurrent and more severe ankle sprains.
The final recommendation is to visit a sports medicine physician for formal evaluation. Especially in young athletes who are still growing, what feels like an ankle sprain could be alternative and more serious injuries that should be ruled out by a physician.
For more information on Nationwide Children's Hospital’s Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy services, click here.
Mindy Deno, PT, DPT, graduated from the University of Cincinnati DPT program in 2015. Immediately following graduate school, she began a one-year Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency here at Nationwide Children’s. Following the completion of the residency, she plans to sit for, and obtain, her Orthopedic Specialist Certification.
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