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Exercise, Stretching Prevents Recurring Ankle Injuries

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Pain from a sprained ankle can last weeks, even months.

Doctors say there are ways to help the pain and prevent getting hurt again.

Anne Cunningham sprained her ankle two weeks ago while playing basketball.

"I just came down funny and it just rolled right over and it hurt a lot! It hurt a lot worse than anything I've done to it before," she said.

Fortunately, she said she knew what to do.

"I immediately went home and did the RICE acronym," said Cunningham.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Doctors recommend getting off the ankle immediately after it is hurt. Then, ice the ankle as soon as possible for 10 to 20 minutes every hour. Proceed to wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage and elevate it to reduce swelling.

Doctors said one sprain often leads to another. About 25 percent of people with a history of ankle sprains develop chronic pain, tendon injury or arthritis in the joint.

Dana Martz, a physical therapist at WakeMed, said it is best to go to a therapist for treatment.

Martz also advised to flex the ankle in order to prevent scar tissue, but not to a point where it hurts.

"For some people, it may just be a slight bit of movement at first in each direction," said Martz.

If a patient can walk on the ankle, she recommended stretching because it helps heal and strengthen.

"Just sitting on your heels helps you stretch the front of your ankle," said Martz.

With proper treatment, she said the ankle should feel better in four to six weeks.

Cunningham said she is counting the days until she gets rid of her crutches.

"I'm usually very active, so it's very frustrating for me when I'm not able to be active," she said.

Ibuprofen can also help relieve pain.

To reduce the chances of another sprain, doctors said to make sure shoes fit properly and heels are properly supported.

Also, wear a brace during any sports activities, even for the few months after the sprain is healed.


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