Updated: Jun 5
Ligament Sprains - What is it? Sprains are damage to a ligament, the fibrous connective tissue that keeps your joints in place by connecting your bones. Most common is the inversion ankle sprain, where you fell or twisted your ankle enough that you stretched and damaged those ligament fibers which weren't designed to stretch (muscle is designed to stretch to a point, ligament really isn't). Sprains are going to take longer to heal than a muscle strain, but with supportive naturopathic treatment you'll be back up and running in a week or two (carefully!). #ouch #firstaid #pain
Most common is the inversion ankle sprain, where you roll your ankle and your foot moves inward. The ligaments on this side are not as sturdy as the deltoid ligament on the medial (inner) side of the ankle, so if we roll our ankle, it tends to roll inward, stretching those ligaments on the outside of the ankle. There are various degrees of ligament sprain, with most severe (grade 3) causing rupture of the ligament. If the joint is compromised, surgical intervention may be needed, but for mild-moderate ankle sprains, home care is usually sufficient.
If you can walk on it (although it hurts and you want to avoid it), you probably don't have a broken bone.
What to do about it:
1) REST: If it's hurt, don't use it! Elevation and rest is the best way to ensure a timely recovery, if you continue to use the injured joint, you'll continue to damage the ligament fibers. Stay off the joint or don't move it as much as possible, and elevation will help reduce swelling. Ice may be helpful for the first 24 hours, but after that you should start local hydrotherapy.
2) Local Hydrotherapy: If it's an ankle sprain, the easiest way to accomplish this is with the Warming Sock Treatment. Take a thin cotton sock, wring it out in cold (not ice) water and place over the foot and ankle. Then cover with a thick wool sock and leave in place until dry, you can do this at night while you sleep. The cold sock will initially constrict the blood vessels of the ankle, and then the body will reflexively increase circulation to the area as the foot warms the sock. This will help bring in helpful white blood cells and nutrients which will get to work cleaning up the injury and starting the healing process. If the injury is not on your ankle, alternate with applications of very warm water (don't burn yourself) for 5 minutes, and follow with cold (not ice cold!) for 30 sec-1 min. Alternate 3 times hot-cold, hot-cold, hot-cold and repeat several times during the day.
In-office constitutional treatments allow us to use physiotherapy including sine wave, high frequency and direct (galvanic) treatments to help stimulate healing, recovery and re-tightening the injured and weak ligaments. (book now.)
3) Nutrients: Calcium and Manganese are the best nutrients to support ligament healing and structure. Typically adult calcium dosages are 1200-1500 mg per day, and Manganese adult dosages are about 2-20 mg per day, but short term higher amounts can be used under a physicians guidance to monitor for toxicity.
Ligaplex I by Standard Process is often used in our office to support acute ligament injuries due to it's high calcium and manganese content, as well as supportive bone and connective tissue nutrients.
Arnica 30C or 200C: Best right after the acute injury, when there's lots of swelling, bruising and pain. You can take take this as often as every hour, as long as it's helping.
Ruta 30C or 200C: A great choice for helping to heal damaged ligaments. Start once the initial swelling and pain decreases and take several times daily until healed.
If these recommendations don't help, or your symptoms are getting worse, give us a call and we'll assess the injury and order an x-ray if needed. It's possible there could be a fracture, or even a rupture of the achilles tendon, which can look very similar to an ankle sprain.
Interesting Fact! Want to know why you get bruising at your toes after an ankle sprain? After a few days the residual blood from ruptured vessels follows gravity, and settles at the bottom of the ankle and the top of the toes. Even though this isn't where the injury took place!
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