Do I have a High Ankle Sprain?
The diagnosis of high ankle sprain is based on the following:
1) A fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone (the big toe).
The big toe usually breaks off first. If there are no fractures then it will break later.
2) An injury to the tendon or ligament which connects your big toe to your foot.
3) A rupture of the Achilles tendon.
4) A tear of the plantar fascia, which runs from inside your heel down your leg and attaches to your calf muscle.
High ankle sprains are very common injuries in runners. They occur when you land with a sudden jump, such as when running up stairs or jumping out of bed. These types of injuries often cause pain and swelling in the affected area. Some runners may even experience numbness or weakness in their injured areas.
There are two main types of high ankle sprains:
A partial dislocation where part of the big toe is broken off. A complete dislocation where all five toes are broken off.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From a High Ankle Sprain?
If you have had a total dislocation, recovery time varies depending on how much damage was done to your bones and muscles. On average, it can take between three to six months to recover from a high ankle sprain injury. This is significantly shorter if you have had a partial dislocation as opposed to a complete one.
When recovering from a sprain, it’s important to rest for a significant period of time. It’s vital that you don’t put any weight on the affected leg until the swelling has gone down, which will usually take about two weeks.
During this period, it’s vital that you place your ankle in a protective boot. You can take the boot off when resting and place ice on the injured area to reduce swelling. If the damaged area is very swollen, consult your doctor for advice. If you experience sharp pains or numbness in the injured area, also see a physician immediately.
High ankle sprain treatment usually involves the use of crutches to help you walk while the injury heals. After the boot has been removed, your ankle should be placed in a cast for up to three months. A few weeks before the cast is removed you can start to walk using a walking aid such as crutches or a walking stick.
If you have been wearing the cast for three months and are able to walk with little or no discomfort, your leg will then be retested. If the damage has healed enough, you can then walk without any help.
After your cast has been removed, you will be given physical therapy exercises to do to strengthen your ankle. In some cases, it may be necessary to further treat the injury with surgery which involves fusing the bones in your foot together with a metal plate or pins.
If you are unable to go into a cast due to other medical conditions or age, a brace can be used in its place. Your doctor or physical therapist will advise you on the most suitable treatment option for you.
What Should I Do If I Think I’ve Sprained My Ankle?
If you experience the symptoms of a high ankle sprain, such as swelling, bruising, aching or sharp pains in your foot, don’t risk making the injury worse by continuing to run. Instead:
1) Rest the injured leg, elevating it above your heart as much as possible.
2) Wrap the foot in an elastic bandage or ACE bandage to help support it and reduce swelling.
3) Apply cold packs for ten minutes every two hours to reduce any swelling that has already occurred.
Do not put ice directly on your skin, instead place a towel between the ice and your skin.
4) Take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin as directed.
5) Seek medical attention if you experience severe or ongoing pain, swelling, redness or if you experience numbness, tingling or a loss of function in the foot.
Can I Still Run After a High Ankle Sprain?
Once it has been confirmed that you have suffered a high ankle sprain, it’s vital that you give your ankle sufficient time to heal before resuming your regular activities. This will usually be anywhere between one and three months. During this time, it is best to rest, ice, compress and elevate the injury as mentioned above. You should also seek out the professional advice of a doctor who can prescribe any pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs to help manage your symptoms.
While resting, you can maintain your fitness level by performing cardio exercises such as stationary cycling, rowing or even walking.