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Sprained ankles

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I've somehow managed to make it to middle age without ever having sprained an ankle (though I did break a leg, once).  I've got a character here who's sprained hers, and I'm trying to figure out how long she'll be needed to keep off it/otherwise feeling it.  A week?  Ten days?  Or am I way off?  Would she be able to dance in ten days or so, at least a little (two-step and waltz sort of dances--the year is 1901, so no nice Ace bandages, btw.)

Thanks for your help!!  :bow:
#1 - January 14, 2012, 09:17 AM
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Marissa,
I've sprained my ankle numerous times.  As for getting back to normal activities, it depends on how bad the sprain is. Sometimes I've managed to walk on it the next day if it wasn't that bad of a sprain and it was wrapped in an ace bandage. The most recent time I sprained it, which was a more serious, I couldn't walk on it for a couple of days and was limited in what I could do (I couldn't drive for instance) for at least a week. I've never tried to dance on a sprained ankle or within a week or so afterwards, so I can't speak to that. Though I once tried to dive and swim a week after a sprain and reinjuring it.
I would give your character at least a week to recover, but I'd assume at ten days, her ankle might still be weak.
#2 - January 14, 2012, 09:43 AM
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Marissa, I've sprained mine numerous times also, from needing a cast and crutches for six weeks (seriously, the doctors told me I'd have been better off breaking it-- and I was in college at the time) to about a week, with all the sports medicine help of icing, exercises, etc., which your character wouldn't have in 1901.  I think you can have her do what she needs to do for your plot!  :)
#3 - January 14, 2012, 10:03 AM
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I'm no medical expert, but my 9yo son just sprained his ankle playing soccer, and I had a few growing up as well. I think it all depends on the degree of the sprain. My son's was a really bad sprain. He was on crutches for 2 weeks and then an aircast for another week. But I had a sprain once that wasn't so bad and I think I tried to stay off it for a week and then limped around on it after that. I think it is totally within the realm of possibility for her to dance within 10 days, especially if it is a light sprain. Also, when my son sprained his ankle, my mom kept telling me that he needed to get back on it right away, which was the opposite of what the doctor said to do. She was insistent. I don't know if it is an old-wives-tale or what, but she thought you should put weight back on it ASAP so that the ankle is not weakened. Don't know if that would apply in the time period you are writing about, but thought I would mention it!
#4 - January 14, 2012, 10:06 AM
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I've had my share of sprains. There are really two kinds of things you feel. The first of course is pain. When that subsides and you are able to move around again, a sense of "wrongness" remains for a while, because the actual damage takes longer to heal. By wrongness, I mean a sense, as you put your foot down, that if you mistepped just a little bit, your foot might twist again and you'd fall. My experience, anyway.

If you really want to get detailed, be aware that all but the mildest sprains causes internal bleeding that looks like a bruise and undergoes the customary color changes of a bruise. Since your skin itself is not damaged, the lividity tends to spread out and downward under the force of gravity. I generally end up with some yellowish-greenish discoloration in the pocket between my ankle and heel. Lovely, huh?

Oh yeah. Have you heard the expression "walk it off," often applied to athletes? If a sprain is not utterly crippling, and if you don't get off it immediately but try to walk around instead, the pain seems to go away long enough to get where you're going. A lot of people are initially fooled into thinking that the injury is less serious than it is. What literally happens, I believe, is that your body floods your brain with endorphins, probably under the assumption that you're being chased across the savanna by a tiger and need time to get away. Your character won't know what causes the experience, of course. But it might be useful if, say, she falls off a horse and has to walk home through a mile of woodland. She could probably do it. And then after a few hours, she would certainly regret it, since she would have made the injury worse! (I've just read AmyD's post. This probably explains her mom's folk wisdom.)
#5 - January 14, 2012, 10:10 AM

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Thanks, guys!  So it sounds like I can give her a lightish sprain, which will curtail her movement somewhat, and let her go to the dance so she can do her best to make someone jealous.  :)  It's not my POV character with the injury, so I don't have to go into details of how she feels, but I like the bit Jeff mentioned about it feeling "wrong"--that's a nice touch.

Thanks again, all!  You da bomb! :yourock
#6 - January 14, 2012, 11:16 AM
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