KOREAN MEDICINE FOR SPRAINED ANKLE
The fact that Korea Medical treatment is effective for sprain is well know to everyone. However, it is unfortunate to see patients attending the clinic hopelessly only because they neglected ankle sprain early on and left it to become stiff for over ten years, so much that it interferes with regular lifestyle, or the pain has become part of their life for over twenty years.
“Sprain” refers to injuries to a ligament caused by accident or trauma. A joint is the location at which bones connect, and the fibrous connective tissue that connects bones to other bones is knows as ligament. The ligament maintains the stability of the joints and simultaneously limits the joint’s range of motion to prevent dislocation of the bone. The ligament also plays a role in absorbing shock from trauma, and injury in this ligament is what we call “sprain.”
Joints with narrow range of motion or those that bear weight, like the ankles, are more prone to be sprained. One can sprain the ankle by missing a step into a small groove or hole. LA Dodgers baseball player Chu got injured while stealing a base, and it turned out to be a ankle sprain. Baseball player Chu was able to recover after receiving emergency care as well as Korean Medicine treatment. There was an instance where he even gave up on his business trip because he did not want his condition to get worse, although he was able to run fast, change directions, and bat after the accident.
When the feet is twisted inward, the lateral (outer) side of the ankle gets injured 90% of the time. Receiving urgent care and treatment is important for efficient recovery of the ligament; overlooking the early stage of symptoms and delaying the period of treatment can lead to stiffening of the ankle, so much that having a normal lifestyle is impossible. On the other hand, repeated injury to the damaged ankle before its full recovery can lead to weakening and loosening of the ligament, followed by instability, and it should never be neglected because damage to the marrow can lead to inflammation.
Let us observe the stages of sprain: Initial stage is the stretch of the ligament accompanied with small rupture. This rupture is so small that is does not affect the joint’s stability. Second stage is a condition where the ligament is ruptured in various areas and the stability of the joint is slightly or moderately interrupted. The third stage is a condition where the ligament is totally ripped or burst and the stability is lost. Korean Medicine provides acupuncture and herbal treatment to contract and restore the relaxed ligaments, normalize damaged tissue and blood vessels, and strengthen the tissue and ligaments. MSAT (Motion Style Acupuncture Treatment) is especially effective in loosening stiff ankles and relieving pain.
Initial symptoms of sprain are swelling, warm sensation, and redness caused by dilation of the vessel and increased blood flow.
The following is the R.I.C.E. emergency protocol for sprained ankle:
▲R: Rest sufficiently
▲I: Ice pack to relieve inflammation and contract the vessels for initial swelling and fever
▲C: Compression of the affect ankle to prevent hemorrhage or edema
▲E: Elevate the leg over a high place to prevent any edema or infection. After the swelling and fever have settled down, apple heat pack on affected tissue to accelerate circulation and absorption.
Prevent spraining by warming up the body prior to exercising and by stretching regularly to strengthen the muscles around the joints. Wearing fitted shoes and protective gears is advised.
The following are ways to take care of ankles:
Zhi Zi (Gardenia seeds) application for acute symptoms: Zhi Zi has cold property so it can relieve swelling, and it also has anti-inflammatory effect, which can prevent infection of the ankle. Mix Zhi Zi, Da Huang, and Huang Bai powders with Soju (Korean gin) and make a paste. Spread the paste over the affected area, cover with plastic wrap, wrap with piece of cloth, and wait for it to dry. Repeat the process three times.
Vinegar and Salt Heat Pack: This application is effective for sprains after the acute phase. Mix one part naturally brewed vinegar, one-part coarse salt, and ten parts water, bring it to boil, and let it cool down to 50′ C. Soak either a gauze or cloth, squeeze out extra liquid, and apply over affect area.
Ankle Strengthening Exercise:
1. Lie down supine with legs spread out about one foot, rotate feet inward and outward to relax muscles around the ankles. Repeat ten times
2. Stand upright in front of the table and grab its edge with both hands, and repeat lifting the heel of the feet for ten times.
Published by KoreaTimes under <Health Column> on May 3rd, 2016.