Quick Call the POLICE, I have hurt my Ankle
It seems silly to be talking about calling the police for an ankle sprain but we are referring to the new acronym that we want you to remember when you suffer an ankle injury. Ankle injuries are really common and we have seen a few pretty serious ones in clinic lately. Despite being common, painful and debilitating, ankle sprain injuries are often disregarded. In fact, 55% of people who sustain an ankle sprain injury do not seek treatment from a health care professional. The problem with this is that without appropriate management, in approximately 70% of cases people will suffer from repetitive and ongoing ankle symptoms. So what is the best way to manage an ankle injury that has just happened? This is where the police comes into it. The acronym POLICE is now our preference over the RICE method. Protection:
A brief window of immobilization is needed to prevent further injury. During this period, your physio may recommend a brace, taping, crutches and/or a moon boot depending on the injury. It is important this period is not prolonged or this can have a detrimental effect on healing. This will be heavily guided by your physio.
It is important that rest does not replace this phase, as early loading has been shown to have many positive benefits. The regeneration of the tissue responds to the gentle loading and allows optimum healing. The loading is conducted in a very specific way depending on the injury and this is heavily guided by your physio.
This is a very well know modalities in acute injury management. Ice is an easy and natural form of pain relief which in the early stage is beneficial for acute management. Ice is typically used for 20 mins every 2 hours for the first 48-72 hours post injury. Ice should not be applied to areas where the circulation is limited, for example people with peripheral vascular disease.
Using compression following an acute ankle injury is used to increase the pressure gradient in the venous and lymphatic systems, with assisting to reduce swelling. This is often using a compression wrap or as simple as a standard elastic bandage. This is as simple as placing ankle on chair or pillow above the level of the pelvis.
The aim of elevation is to reduce swelling in the injury extremity. Elevation of the affected area above the heart aims at reducing pressure and therefore accumulation of fluid.
It is important to remember that ankle sprains can vary greatly in severity from minor soft tissue damage through to multiple ligaments, cartilage and even bony damage. For this reason, getting assessed by a trusted health professional such as physiotherapist is always the best option. They can assist with the prescription of any necessary aids and devices such as taping, crutches or moon boots.