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PROBLEM

Severe pain and swelling around the lateral malleolus (otherwise known as the big knobby bone on the outside of the ankle).

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TRIGGER

More often than not, this is the result of the bottom of your foot rolling inward–a common problem when athletes accidentally step on an opponent’s foot during a game or land badly after a jump. It can also happen to someone who walks on uneven ground or steps into a hole.

DIAGNOSIS

Lateral ankle sprain. The ankle is the most commonly injured joint, with sprains making up approximately 85% of those injuries.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW

Immediately apply ice to the ankle–the longer you wait, the worse the injury will become. Over the next 48-72 hours, follow the R.I.C.E. rule: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Stay off the ankle, ice it for 20 minutes every two hours, wrap it in an Ace bandage starling from the foot and wrapping upward, and prop it up on your couch’s armrest (or any place that keeps your ankle above your heart). You can guess the severity of the sprain by how much it hurts. If you can’t put weight on your ankle or are unable to move it around (or if the swelling gets worse), go to the ER–there’s a chance you may have fractured the bone.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO LATER

After two or three days, the symptoms should start to subside. (If not, go to the doctor for a professional evaluation.) As you recover, switch from R.I.C.E. to M.E.A.T.: Movement, Exercise, Analgesics, and Therapy. Start moving your ankle in every direction (try writing the alphabet in the air with your foot), then exercise your ankle by putting your weight on it, eventually moving it against the resistance of an elastic band and later progressing to lifts such as stepups, shallow squats, and single-leg balance activities. Control the pain with ice and over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories (such as aspirin). If the injury was severe, you may need physical therapy to stop the pain and restore normal ankle function.

ANKLE OK FOR NOW?

Keep it that way by doing single-leg exercises like lunges, stepups, Bulgarian split squats, and single-leg squats to strengthen the supportive muscles around the ankle. If your injury was sports-related and you plan to return to the field soon, get back in the game slowly by performing lateral agility drills that require cutting, jumping, and landing in all directions. Increase the speed and intensity of your activities as your symptoms allow. You can also invest in an ankle brace to provide stability and prevent recurrent injury.

Jim

The author Jim

Jim Cooper loves to write absorbing articles and he started this site to share his views with the world. He believes that in this age of information writers like him have the responsibility to stand as an accountable source.