A Quick Guide to Injured Ankles and the Ankle Cast or Splint
The most common treatment for an injured or broken ankle is either an ankle cast or a splint. An ankle cast is most often used to set a broken ankle, while an ankle splint is generally used temporarily or for less severe breaks or sprains. Whether broken or just sprained, ankle injuries are fairly common, especially in athletes and active people who regularly participate in sports or exercise. Running and jogging are two of the most common areas of exercise where ankle injuries tend to happen. Popular sports like soccer and basketball can also lead to serious ankle injuries.
While a broken or injured ankle is not dangerous or life-threatening, broken and damaged bones are known to cause tremendous pain to sufferers. Because of this, the reaction to a broken ankle is usually immediate and dramatic. When a person breaks a bone, they usually know it right away because of the excruciating pain they experience.
When an ankle injury occurs, it will almost always begin to swell immediately. The swelling surrounding a broken bone will usually be quite extensive, sometimes even hampering quick diagnosis. Because of the instantaneous swelling around the area of the broken ankle, the first thing to do after the injury is to put some ice on the break. Applying ice to the area surrounding a broken bone will quickly go to work to reduce and minimize swelling. It is also a good idea to keep the ankle elevated as much as possible while waiting for treatment. This keeps the blood from flowing into the ankle and causing additional swelling around the injury.
Most of the time, a serious ankle injury will require medical attention, usually in the form of a visit to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. Once at the hospital, a doctor will perform an x-ray of the injured area of the body to see exactly what the problem is and how extensive the injury might be. X-rays are especially important in cases where the break is internal and no part of the bone is visibly protruding outside of the skin. The x-ray will show the doctor what needs to be done to get the bone back into alignment and on its way to proper healing.
Depending on how swollen the injured ankle is, the doctor will either put the ankle in a splint or set it in an ankle cast. A splint will generally be used to set a broken ankle for the first few days if the swelling is particularly severe. When the ankle is extremely swollen, a cast will cause greater discomfort, so the splint is put on temporarily until the swelling goes down.
Before placing the ankle in a cast or splint, it must be reset back into the correct position so the bones can heal back together correctly. This is extremely important, because if the bones are not suitably aligned, they may be imbalanced and this can cause future injuries and chronic pain in years to come. Most victims of broken bones say that this is one of the worst parts of breaking something – resetting the bone.
Once the bone is reset and put in a cast, there is really minimal pain and healing begins right away. The length of time required to heal from a broken ankle varies, depending on a number of things – the severity of the break and health of the patient, just to name a couple. Rest and staying off of the ankle will also have an effect on healing times.