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Ankle sprains occur when ligaments in the ankle are stretched beyond their limit, causing a tear. This type of injury is very common and usually happens as a result of falls, sports injuries, exercising on an uneven surface, and other situations and physical activities that may cause the foot to twist or turn in an awkward way. Most ankle sprains are minor injuries, requiring rest and ice packs for recovery, but some sprains can be severe and cause long-term joint pain and damage if not treated immediately by a medical professional.

 

Degrees of Ankle Sprains

There are two types of sprains that determine which ligaments are stretched and torn. The more common inversion sprain occurs when the foot falls inward and the outer ligaments are affected. In this case, the foot goes outward, causing tears and pain on the inside of the ankle.

The degree of an ankle sprain is determined by the severity of the injury. The three degrees are as described:

First Degree: The ligaments are stretched but are not torn. This will lead to mild pain and swelling. The joints will experience some stiffness and while a person will be able to walk, there will be some limping and difficulties in jogging, jumping or any other activity that places pressures on the foot.

Second Degree: This common injury includes a partial tear in the ligament. The ankle will experience some swelling and bruising. Moderate pain will be accompanied by some difficulty in walking and moving the ankle.

Third Degree: This is the most severe degree of sprains and requires immediate medical attention to prevent long-term foot damage. A third-degree ankle sprain is identified by severe swelling, extreme inability of motion in the foot, and significant pain and difficulties while walking.

 

To Care for a Sprain: Remember RICE

A person can use the mnemonic RICE to remember the steps to effectively treat an ankle injury:

R: Rest. A person must avoid pressure on the foot and ankle for the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury.

I: Ice. An ice pack should be applied in 20-minute intervals for the first two days.

C: Compression. This is to reduce swelling. An elastic bandage should fit snugly around the injury.

E: Elevation. The ankle should be elevated above chest level to reduce swelling and subsequently alleviate pain.

 

A person should not ignore a sprain and should generally consult a doctor after an injury. To prevent long-term disability, they should seek immediate medical attention if they are unable to move the foot, they experience severe pain or numbness in the foot, or symptoms do not improve after two weeks.

 

The Achilles tendon, running from the heel bone up to the calf muscle, is one of the longest tendons in the body. It gets its name from ancient Greek mythology. The hero Achilles was dipped into the River Styx, which was said to offer the powers of invulnerability, by his mother, and his entire body became invincible. Every part that is, except for his heel, which was held by his mom as she dunked him in the magical water. He grew up to be a legendary warrior, but this small area led to his downfall when he was shot in the ankle with a poisonous arrow during battle.

 

Achilles Injuries

Like Achilles, athletes and especially runners are prone to injuries in this tendon. Achilles tendon injuries can occur when a person increases the intensity or duration of their training, particularly when it comes to running. Also, adding elevation or sprints to a running routine can increase the probability of Achilles tendinitis.

 

Prevention

What can be done to prevent this serious injury? Prevention starts with proper preparation. Simply developing a walking routine for a few minutes before training can help stave off injuries, as this will warm up the calves and ensure blood flow through the legs, which helps prevent calf tightening. A proper warm up is important because tight calves lead to tendon tugging, over-stretching, and even twisting.
 
Along with a pre-run walk, another way to prevent injury is to keep calves strong. Calves need to be able to withstand the pressure that comes with long, intense runs. To strengthen the calves, doctors recommend toe raises. To perform these exercises, athletes should rise on the balls of their feet and slowly lower their heels back to the ground.
 

Treatment

To combat Achilles heel pain, quick and proper action can help the area heal and reduce the chances of an Achilles tendon rupture. At the first feeling of prolonged pain, it is important to wrap the affected area with a compression sleeve to keep swelling down and provide support. Next doctors recommend that sufferers attempt low impact activities while keeping the area iced and elevated. Massage therapy also facilitates blood flow to promote healing.
 
Should symptoms remain, the injured person should see a podiatrist to customize footwear and an exercise routine to help strengthen calf muscles. Also, if symptoms get worse, or if there is a sharp pain in the lower back, it is likely that the tendon has ruptured. Unfortunately, the only effective Achilles tendon rupture treatment is surgery.
 
Whether preventing or treating an Achilles injury, regular visits to a podiatrist will help strengthen lower extremities.
 

Once the weather warms up, it's time to ditch those heavy sneakers and put on a pair of airy flip-flops. When spending time outdoors, follow a few simple tips throughout the summer season to practice proper foot health.

Wear Sunscreen

As with any other part of a person's body, feet need to be covered with a layer of sunscreen to prevent sunburn that can lead to skin cancer. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is best. Set a timer for every two hours and then reapply the lotion for continuous protection.

Flip-Flop Dangers

Flip-flops provide feet with lots of air circulation during the hot summer months; however, there are a few things one must be aware of before putting on a pair. First, this type of shoe does not protect feet when mowing the lawn. Second, they don't offer any arch support for trips that require a lot of walking. Third, an improper fit can lead to blisters where the toe thong rubs against the toes, or plantar warts if any part of the foot hangs over the edge.

Swim for Exercise

When suffering from any type of injury, such as an ankle sprain, swimming allows a person to get the physical exercise he or she needs without causing any further harm to the injury. Just remember to wear water shoes, as pools are known to harbor bacteria and fungi that can lead to infections. For any other type of physical activities when recovering from trauma, seek guidance from a podiatrist.

Create a Portable First Aid Kit

It is best to have a first aid kit available if anyone in your party gets cut on the foot after stepping on a seashell, or develops a swollen ankle after tripping over a pool noodle. Some items to include in the kit are aloe vera gel for sunburn, antibiotic cream for cuts, ibuprofen for inflammation, and hydrating body lotion to treat dry skin.