Mashed potatoes, naps, and football: The trifecta of American Thanksgiving Day tradition. This Thursday, millions of kids and grown-ups across the country will step outside to throw the pigskin while working up an appetite as ambitious as the Manifest Destiny.
Unfortunately, sportsballing in the backyard often breeds danger, and sure as leftover turkey sandwiches, at least 25,000 Americans will wind up nursing an ankle injury after roughhousing with the kiddos.
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments of the ankle are stretched or torn. It’s an extremely common injury, affecting about three million people each year in the U.S. alone. Of these, about 40% will continue to have long term joint issues even after the sprain has healed. Why?
“A lot of patients underestimate the severity of their injury,” says Dr. Bob Baravarian, Director of University Foot and Ankle Institute. “The key to a successful recovery is giving the ligaments enough time to heal. Limit walking and exercise for at least two weeks after sustaining a sprain.”
That means no more football for you, and you better claim the good couch before Uncle Karl falls asleep on it. But hey, at least you’ll get out of doing the dishes!
You can try to minimize the risk of an ankle sprain by warming up first. Try stretching and jogging in place for a minute to get your muscles engaged and ready for activity. You can tape your ankle or wear a brace to give it more support; this is especially important if you’ve already sustained an ankle injury.
Make sure to play on a flat surface and remove any obstacles that players could accidentally step on – toys, rocks, and sticks should be cleared from the area before playing
- Rest. Stay off your ankle. If you need to get around, use crutches or a knee scooter.
- Ice. Cool the ankle with ice for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times per day. This can help keep the swelling down. Avoid placing ice directly on your skin – wrap it with a paper towel or washcloth.
- Compress. Wrap the ankle with a compression stocking or elastic bandage.
- Elevate. Keep your ankle propped up on a footstool or with pillows while sitting or lying down.
- Manage the pain with an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), like ibuprofen or naproxen.
Serious ankle sprains may need more intensive treatment. Call your foot and ankle specialist if you notice any of these signs:
- Pain, swelling, or redness in the leg aside from the ankle – this could be an indication of a blood clot.
- Continued or worsening pain and swelling after 5 days
- Bruising that lasts longer than a couple weeks
- Inability to put any weight on the ankle
Most importantly, do not ignore your injury. Left untreated, a sprained ankle could cause chronic ankle instability.
You’ll have to weigh for yourself the risks of playing football versus debating your relatives about politics. On second thought, maybe try croquet?
If you have any questions on ankle sprains or any other foot and ankle injuries, please call us at (877) 989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.
As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.
We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.
The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.
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