There are three levels of sprain:
- Stretching or mild tearing of ligaments, mild pain and some swelling
- Tearing of ligaments, moderate pain and swelling, painful weight bearing and stiffness
- Total rupture of a ligament, loss of motion, severe swelling
When you roll your ankle, whether on the pickleball court, walking the mall or hiking trails, stop and tie, lace or strap your shoe as tight as you can, providing compression until you can get home. RICE is the acronym to remember.
R: Rest from all activities that cause pain or limping.
I: Pack the ankle with ice or frozen peas for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 5 times daily for the first three days. Immersion in an ice water bath is best.
C: Compress with an elastic bandage using even pressure until the swelling subsides. Loosen the wrap if your toes turn blue or begin to numb.
E: Elevate the foot.
When sleeping the pressure of the sheet or blanket might cause pain, so sleep with the foot on a pillow outside the covers.
The sprain might take six weeks to four months to heal depending upon the severity. Some physical therapists can do a Kinesio taping [Ed: elastic therapeutic tape] that will help to reduce swelling and discoloration. You can begin a limited exercise program after a few days as long as the exercises are not painful. Simple ankle rotations are a good indicator of healing. If you have access to swim fins and a pool, in-water kicking exercises will help strengthen the ankle. Practice balance exercises standing on one leg, then the other.
Check your shoes; if you are wearing running shoes to play pickleball that is a big no-no. Running and cross training shoes provide no side-to-side protection. They are built for straight ahead movement. You might consider an ankle brace to get you back on the court sooner. When injured always consult a physician, especially if it isn’t healing.
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