Pregnant women are at risk for many ailments and protecting yourself and your child from injury and disease is of the utmost importance. One common symptom of pregnancy is foot and ankle swelling. While this is a natural occurrence, if one ankle presents with swelling, bruising, and pain, that could be an indication the ankle has been injured and needs professional attention.
During pregnancy, the body begins producing additional Relaxin, a hormone that loosens the ligaments in the pelvis to prepare for birth. Unfortunately, the ligaments holding your ankles steady are also affected by Relaxin and can overstretch, causing the potential for sprained ankles.
READ MORE: Sprain or Strain
Unfortunately, there is more than just your hormones to worry about when it comes to increased risk for ankle sprains. The combination of weight gain during pregnancy and the shift in your center of gravity means that your balance is compromised. Wearing high heels, activities with sudden twists, turns, or changes in direction, and any movement that challenges balance can lead to a sprained ankle.
READ MORE: Pregnancy & High Heels
There are varying degrees of sprains; grades I, II, and III. A grade I sprain is mild, usually with sudden sharp pain and gradual bruising and swelling. A grade II sprain means you have partially torn a ligament. This will be evident by a looseness of the ankle, presenting as weakness and the feeling of instability. A grade III sprain is the most severe and leads to a complete tear that will render your ankle unusable until it is dealt with.
READ MORE: What is RICE?
Grade I sprains can be treated at home with RICE and should resolve within a couple of days. Be protective of your ankle afterwards as a ligament that has been stretched once is at higher risk of repeat injury. Any grade II or III sprains need to be treated by a podiatrist. Call and make an appointment immediately if you are pregnant and suspect you have a sprained ankle. There should be no chances taken with your health and the health of your baby.