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Ouch! Ankle sprains are one of the most common soft tissue injuries. Simply stepping on an uneven surface or landing awkwardly on the side of your foot can cause a sprained ankle. Read on to learn more about how to correctly treat this injury.

What is an ankle sprain?

A sprained ankle is an injury caused by over stretching the ligaments in the leg and foot. The ligaments are tough yet flexible bands of tissue that hold the ankle joint together. The injury commonly occurs from awkwardly twisting the ankle joint with children being particularly at high risk of ankle sprains (Physio Works).

What to expect

Ankle sprains vary in severity. A mild ankle sprain may result from rolling your ankle with pain subsiding after the initial trauma. A moderate to severe ankle sprain may result in acute pain and swelling; you may even hear a cracking or popping sound. Depending on the injury, you may find discomfort placing weight on the injured foot and trouble walking as symptoms of an ankle sprain.

When to seek medical care

If you are unable to bear weight on your injured ankle and/or you are in considerable pain it is recommended to seek medical care. Often, ankle sprains and ankle fractures are difficult to distinguish without an x-ray. Your doctor will classify your ankle sprain as either mild, moderate or severe depending on the number of ligaments which have been injured.

Treating an ankle sprain

For mild to moderate ankle sprains, following the R.I.C.E methodology is the recommended course of action.

  • Rest: Limit weight bearing and use crutches if necessary.
  • Ice: Cool the area by applying an ice pack or the CoolXChange bandage. If using an ice pack, do use for more than 20 minutes at a time and never apply directly to the skin. The CoolXChange bandage can be applied for longer periods of time and is applied directly to the skin.
  • Compression: Compression helps control swelling and immobilise your injury. The CoolXChange bandage provides compression and conforms to the ankle for additional convenience compared to the conventional ice pack.
  • Elevation: Position the foot above the waist/heart by sitting in a reclined position to promote healing.

Rehabilitating a sprained ankle

Suffering from a sprained ankle leaves you at an increased risk of re-injury, between 40-70% (Physio Works). This makes proper rehabilitation even more important. As always we recommend visiting your physio or healthcare professional for an individualised ankle rehab program. However most programs will include three stages:

1. Rest, protect and reduce swelling to the injured ankle.
2. Restore flexibility and strength to the ankle joint
3. Return to full use of the ankle.

CoolXChange supports active lifestyles. The gel bandage provides cooling and compression with no need for refrigeration. Keep the bandage handy in your first aid kit or your glovebox. Buy CoolXChange from our official online retailer.

For more interesting posts, check out:
Beginners’ guide to hot and cold therapy
– Sore back: ice or heat?
– Not forgotten: First aid kit contents checklist