Best Way To Elevate Broken Ankle
Broken ankles are not a pleasant experience. You may have heard that you should elevate the broken ankle at least six inches above the heart, but what does this mean? How high can you go? And how long do you need to keep it elevated once symptoms start? These questions are answered in this article.
The best way to elevate a broken ankle is with an inflexible support device such as a back brace or walking cast. Some people use pillows or special boots to elevate their ankles, but these options are less effective than a rigid support because they allow movement of the injured foot. A pillow or boot also takes time to put on properly, which could be important if there’s bleeding inside the shoe or sock.
A good rule of thumb is to set the ankle higher than the height of the heart so that blood pooling doesn’t collect under the foot. The easiest way to find out where your heart is located is to count your fingers from the bend in your elbow to your wrist. If you’re female, take three fingers into consideration. For men, consider four fingers. (If you’re using a stethoscope, place one finger about halfway between the middle knuckle and the tip of the nail.) Then, add another inch to account for swelling.
For example, if someone were to measure from his elbow to his wrist, he would discover that his heart is just over the mid-knuckle line. So, if he had a sprained ankle, he would want to keep this area slightly higher than the heart to avoid pressure sores developing. However, if he has a fractured ankle, he wouldn’t want to elevate his foot above the heart as doing so might make him feel faint. He would probably elevate it just below the heart to minimize discomfort.
Once you’ve determined the proper elevation, you’ll need to know how often to change it. Most experts agree that keeping the ankle elevated as much as possible during the first week after injury is the best course of action. Once symptoms begin to occur, however, changing the elevation is necessary to relieve pain and swelling. Your doctor will help determine whether you need to elevate your ankle more frequently in order to heal.
It’s also important to note that elevating a broken ankle is different from elevating a dislocated ankle. In a dislocation, the joint pops out of its socket. In an ankle fracture, the bone actually breaks, but the ligaments hold everything together. While both injuries require some type of immobilization, the best way to elevate a broken ankle differs greatly depending upon the severity of the break.
Elevation Is Essential After An Ankle Injury
After suffering an ankle sprain, you’ll want to elevate your ankle as much as possible for the first few days. There are several reasons why you’d want to do this. First, elevating your ankle will reduce swelling by forcing fluid out of the damaged tissues. Second, elevating your ankle will decrease the amount of weight bearing placed on your uninjured leg. With reduced loading on your healthy limb you won’t have as much stress placed on the other joints, making them healthier as well. Finally, elevating your ankle prevents further damage to torn ligaments during the early stages of recovery. As soon as you can bear full weight again without pain, you should try to walk around barefoot.
But what happens if you suffer a severe ankle fracture? Should you always keep your injured foot raised? Not necessarily. It depends on the severity of the injury, the type of fracture, and your overall health.
If your injury involves only a small crack, like a chip fracture, then elevating your foot isn’t really going to help much. That said, you’ll still want to elevate your foot to provide comfort until you can get medical attention. Fractures involving multiple pieces of bone sticking through each other, however, require more complicated treatment plans. In these cases, doctors must decide exactly how many bones need to be stabilized and how to stabilize them. When deciding on a treatment plan, the patient’s age, general health, and mobility play key roles.
To learn more about elevating an injured foot, see the next page.
Ankle fractures are common. About 1 million people visit emergency rooms each year with sprains, twists, and tears of the lower extremity. Of those patients, approximately 500,000 are treated surgically for a variety of injuries including complex dislocations, malleolar fractures, and comminuted (crush) fractures. More than 300,000 of these surgeries involve the ankle.
How High Can I Elevate My Foot?
You may think that any height is fine for elevating a broken foot, but that’s not entirely true. There are two main factors to consider when deciding on an appropriate elevation. One factor is the stability of the bone(s). The second factor is the patient’s age, mobility, and overall health.
One thing to remember is that every person has unique characteristics. What works great for one person may not work as well for another. So before starting to elevate your foot, give yourself plenty of time to adjust to the new position. Also, be sure to check with your doctor to ensure that you’re comfortable with the elevation levels you choose.
In very old or sickly people, elevating the foot too high can cause problems. The extra distance created by raising the foot can cause a shift in the pelvis, resulting in loss of balance. This puts additional strain on the spine and can lead to serious complications. Furthermore, people who aren’t mobile enough to raise their feet often rely on wheelchairs to move around. Raising the foot too far can cause compression of internal organs, especially the abdomen.
Generally speaking, elderly people should never elevate their feet higher than hip level. Hip level normally ranges from 15 to 18 inches, although it varies according to body build and height. For most adults, hip level is somewhere near the top of the thigh.
Patients who have difficulty moving their legs due to disease or disability should follow the same guidelines as older individuals. Patients who don’t have trouble getting around usually raise their feet no higher than knee level, which is anywhere from 12 to 20 inches off the ground.
So now we understand how high to elevate our feet, but what kind of support do we need? Read on to find out.
When elevating an injured foot, it’s important to wear shoes that fit comfortably. Shoes with closed toes shouldn’t be worn, since they can increase pressure points on the bottom of the foot. Instead, go with open-toed sandals or flip-flops. Loose fitting socks are also helpful with providing adequate padding.
Supportive Stockings And Boots Are Best For Elevating Your Foot
After determining your elevation needs, you’ll want to choose a supportive pair of stockings or boots. Ideally, these devices should be made of lightweight material that allows free circulation of air underneath. They should also be flexible enough to accommodate sudden changes in temperature. Supportive stockings and boots can be used alone or in conjunction with crutches and/or canes.
While wearing supportive stockings or boots, be sure to keep your foot as stable as possible. Don’t lean on walls or railings; instead, prop objects against the wall so that your foot is supported but not locked in place. Make sure you have something sturdy to rest your foot on while standing. Crutches offer excellent anchorage, along with the added benefit of allowing you to carry things. But be careful not to let your foot hang down in front of the crutch, otherwise you risk falling forward onto your toes.
Supportive stockings and boots are available in a wide range of styles and colors. Many brands even come with built-in insoles that can cushion the arch and heel. Before buying a pair of supportive stockings or boots, ask your doctor for her opinion. She may recommend a different style that better fits your specific needs.
Now that you know what to look for, read on to find out what to expect after an ankle sprain.
Socks are often overlooked among the essential items for maintaining good health. Socks protect the skin from irritation by absorbing moisture and preventing bacteria from entering the pores. They also wick away perspiration, providing relief from hot spots and odor. Proper care of your socks is vital to reducing chances of infection. Wash your socks regularly with mild soap and lukewarm water — never wash them with bleach, chlorine, ammonia, or rough surfaces. Dry them thoroughly between washes to reduce the chance of fungal growth. Never stuff them with cotton balls — it promotes sweat buildup and makes blisters worse.
Expected Results After An Ankle Sprain
As mentioned earlier, the first step in recovering from an ankle sprain is to elevate your foot as much as possible. This will reduce the amount of trauma to the ankle and surrounding tissue. Keeping the ankle elevated will also decrease the amount of swelling, thus preventing stiffness and muscle soreness. Finally, elevating the ankle will improve circulation and facilitate drainage.
During the first 24 hours after an injury, icing the ankle daily is recommended. Ice reduces inflammation and swelling by slowing metabolism and constricting blood vessels. Ice packs should remain in place for about 30 minutes.
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