how to treat a rolled ankle

What You Need to Know About Treating a Rolled Ankle

Rolled ankles, also known as sprained ankles, are among the most common injuries in the US today. In fact, they are responsible for 30% of all sports injuries recorded in sports medicine clinics and the primary reason most people end up visiting their medical care providers. Sprained ankles are painful and can limit a person’s everyday mobility. In addition to sensitivity and pain, an injured ankle means that standing, walking, and even sitting upright can be unbearable. 

It’s been found that more than 23,000 people in the US alone are treated for rolled ankles per day. But what does that mean? A rolled ankle is when the ligaments that allow the foot to raise and lower are pulled or torn. And what does rolled ankle treatment look like? It starts with working to reduce the swelling so that the damaged ligaments will have some room to heal. This will help enable recovery and reduce pain. Some great ways to lower swelling are elevation, icing the injured ankle, and compression socks. A great way to remember this is the acronym RICE.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Common Causes of a Rolled Ankle

Sprained ankles happen when the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, the ones that let a person lift and drop their foot, are torn or pulled due to twisting or rolling the ankle itself. This happens to all types of people from all walks of life because rolled ankles are caused by walking, tripping, jumping, falling, and simply stepping wrong. The ankle joint is specialized and sensitive, that’s why it’s so easy to injure them and why rolled ankles are so prevalent. 

While anyone can roll their ankle in almost any situation, they’re most commonly caused by sports and exercise. Most of the time, rolled ankles are caused by landing wrong after a jump in basketball or volleyball. They’re also very common in soccer and football due to the amounts of running, falling, and kicking involved. There are also a few contributing factors that can make people playing sports or simply going about their daily lives more prone to injuries such as rolled, sprained, or twisted ankles. 

A lack of conditioning and stretching can make people far more likely to get ankle injuries. Conditioning is a type of exercise that’s designed to strengthen the body overall and certain muscle-groups in particular. If the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the ankle are not properly built up then they won’t be flexible enough to account for an active life. Stretching and warming up is a key component of getting the body ready for any sort of movement. If the leg and ankle muscles are tight, they’re more likely to get strained with activity.

Causes of a rolled ankle can also be situational. Be it from the uneven ground or just from the wrong pair of socks and shoes, the environment a person is in can be just as big a contributor to injury. Any combination of these factors can work to make injuries worse. At a time like this, the wrong shoes or socks can be the final straw, causing destabilization and the injury itself.

Symptoms of a Rolled Ankle

There are three stages of rolled ankle injuries and each has differing symptoms. The first and least painful type of ankle sprain is called grade I or mild. A mild ankle twist means that while there’s significant damage to the outer ligaments of the ankle, they’re not torn. The symptoms of a mild roll are light bruising, pain, and stiffness. Here, the ankle is not fully destabilized and can take minor pressure, allowing the injured person some mobility. Grade I ankle twists can take just a few days to start feeling better but may take up to 3 weeks to get back to full strength.

A grade II or moderate sprain means more intense pain. A moderate ankle roll has the same symptoms of a mild one, but those symptoms are amplified. In addition to the aforementioned issues, a grade II injury will cause swelling, warmth, and instability. The physical difference is that rather than stretching the sensitive ligaments of the ankle, the injury created partial tears in both the veins and ligaments. The ligament tears make the ankle unable to support any weight or movement while the torn veins can cause blood to pool, increasing swelling and temperature. This type of sprain can take around 6 weeks to fully heal.

The most painful and impactful type of ankle roll is called a grade III or severe sprain. These happen when the ligaments that surround the ankle are fully torn. As the ligaments tear, so do the veins causing more intense pain, swelling, and discoloration. The resulting, complete lack of support around the ankle makes any movement and all pressure unbearable which is referred to as full instability. Complete recovery from this type of injury can take 8-12 weeks and will put athletes out of commission for a minimum of 2 months.

Each of these injury types will take athletes out of the game and people out of their normal lives. Without being able to stand or walk effectively, many people are left completely unable to work, move, or function. Treatment and recovery for a rolled ankle can take up to 3 months and leave lasting damage to the ligaments themselves. Once a person sprains their ankle, they become far more likely to do so again and 2 out of every 10 people who roll their ankle will experience chronic instability and pain for the rest of their lives.

Immediate Rolled Ankle Treatment

Most people who encounter mild and moderate ankle sprains should start with RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. RICE means that one should stay off the injured foot and apply ice in 20-minute increments to reduce swelling. During this time, it’s also very effective to put on compression socks. Compression socks are an easy way to get the targeted pressure your injured ankle needs, eliminating the hassle of wrapping and unwrapping your leg with bandages.

Throughout both icing and compression therapy, it is critical to elevate the ankle. By getting the damaged ligaments and veins on the same level or slightly above the heart, a person is increasing their circulation to the injury, which is imperative to reduce swelling and pain while aiding in the healing process. This is another great reason to choose compression socks for treatment as they work with the body to promote effective blood flow, especially in the lower leg, ankle, and foot. In the event of a severe sprain, the first step on the road to recovery is to visit a doctor.

Continued Treatments and Ankle Sprain Relief

After the initial injury, it becomes critically important to keep the damaged ligaments supported and the rest of the ankle stabilized. To do this, try to continue resting and elevating the ankle as much as possible while using the right gear. Medical grade compression socks can add support to the ankle and help alleviate some of the pressure on the damaged tissues, due to the fact that compression socks hold all components of the lower leg, foot, and ankle in alignment. This will help steady the ankle and make sure that the whole leg moves as one so that other muscles and ligaments in the leg can compensate for the weakened area. 

Remember that mild stretching will help to return mobility but should only be done after the first three weeks of recovery. Even after this general waiting period, these exercises should be done only with consent from your doctor. Everyone’s healing process is different, so be sure to check in with a medical professional before committing to a recovery plan.

For moderate and severe ankle rolls, staying off the ankle entirely is the best course of action. Even when not using the leg, keeping a medical compression sock on can work to ensure proper circulation and more rapid healing. When up and about on a moderate sprain, don’t take a single step without your compression socks and an ankle brace. Some severe cases will need things like a solid boot or even a full cast to ensure a complete recovery. 

In the weeks following an ankle injury, it’s more important than ever to take precautions. Try to wear compression socks every day along with shoes that have a lot of ankle support. When feeling unstable, wearing a brace in addition to the other gear can add protection and peace of mind. Don’t be afraid to be cautious, permanent damage to the ankle can limit mobility for the rest of a person’s life.

Don’t Let a Rolled Ankle Slow You Down

There’s a lot about getting injured that can feel overwhelming and frustrating. But with the right compression socks, sprained ankles can be incredibly manageable. At Lasso, your recovery and continued health is our top priority. That’s why we design compression socks with built-in technologies that promote more natural movement to help you avoid injury and have a faster, easier recovery.

Get your pair of Lasso medical-grade compression socks!