Remedial Massage – Ankle Sprain
Almost everybody has twisted their ankle by the time they reach adult-hood. The foot rolls over an uneven surface causing a sharp pain in the ankle which reminds the owner where the end point of the joint range of motion is.
Sometimes that twisted ankle can be painful, swollen, and even become discoloured with bruising. That means a little more damage has occurred. This is called a sprain. Spraining occurs when ligaments over-stretch in a traumatic way. When a ligament is over stretched, some of the fibres tear or break away, much like a rope under too much tension. The rope frays and weakens. This is similar to the damage caused to a ligament.
There are simple sprains and complex sprains. The location of the injury within the joint, amount of swelling, immobility, pain can all contribute to the seriousness of the injury. Early treatment of a sprain will reduce complications and ongoing problems later in life.
When ankle sprain happens (rolling your foot inwards or outwards), the pain is almost instantly localised to the ligament that is affected. Swelling may occur straight away, and usually bruising takes a bit longer to appear (hours up to a couple of days). The ankle is tender and movement causes pain. In a more serious sprain, there may be weakness of the joint causing inability to walk or stand on the affected foot.
In a very severe sprain, there may have been a pop or snapping sound, and you may even feel the tear as it happens (I did!). The more severe the sprain, the longer it will take to heal. More severe sprains may require the attention of a doctor and X-Ray to rule out a fracture. There are many bones in the ankle joint and foot which may be broken at the same time.
First aid treatment of a sprained ankle is simple and if used will support the ankle and prevent further injury and pain. Follow these steps:
1. Rest the ankle immediately by sitting down and remaining immobile as much as possible. Use whatever you can find to support the ankle while you sit so that you are comfortable.
2. Ice the area using an ice-pack wrapped in a small towel. When at home you can place wet tea towels rolled up in the freezer and rotate them to the injured site. They make very effective cool packs. Do this as often as possible for as long as you can tolerate. Ice packs usually last about 20-30 minutes.
3. Compress the injured joint with a bandage using a figure of eight style around the heel and over the top of the foot. This will provide support for the weakened joint and also assist with controlling painful swelling.
4. Elevate the injured ankle. This also helps to reduce and prevent further swelling thereby reducing pain and assisting with healing.
5. If you are able to do so, take some over-the counter pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (following the instructions on the pack). These medications are safe for most people to take for short term conditions such as sprained ankle and will provide excellent pain relief in most cases.
Once the swelling has subsided and the pain eased is a good time to test for recovery. Strapping the injured ankle with sports tape can provide ongoing support for the ligaments while they repair. Sporting activities can be resumed gently and low-impact. This ensures that healing is still occurring and prevents further damage. If the damage is too severe, you will need to see your doctor about what next.
Walking, range of motion exercises such as dynamic stretching, tracing the alphabet with your toes and strengthening exercises are excellent recovery activities for a sprained ankle. Consult with a physiotherapist for assistance with this.
Where does remedial massage fit in here?
Massage is not recommended in the acute stage of the ankle injury up to 3 weeks. However after thsi time, the area can be gently massaged by a qualified remedial massage therapist. This will aid circulation and lymphatic drainage, assisting with recovery.
I hope this post was helpful to you.