What does ‘ankle sprain’ mean?
A sprain is a term used to describe a ligament injury, where the ligament has been over-stretched or sometimes torn. They typically occur due to joint trauma, or a joint being taken past its range of motion. An ankle sprain is therefore, an injury to the ligaments connecting the bones of the ankle joint.
What are normal symptoms?
- Tender to touch
- Sudden and intense pain
- Swelling and bruising
- Joint stiffness
- Walk with a limp
What ligaments have I sprained?
The ligaments injured, depend on how you have sprained your ankle
Rolling your ankle inwards
Rolling your ankle outwards
How long until I get better?
Sprains are graded from 1 to 3 based on their severity, with 1 being the lowest and 3 the highest.
Grade 1 indicates mild stretching and damage, with 1-2 weeks for recovery
Grade 2 indicates partial tearing, with 4-6 weeks for recovery
Grade 3 indicates complete tearing, with 3 or months for recovery
Is this a serious condition?
Although painful, this is not a condition you should worry about, as ankle sprains make up 40% of all sporting injuries. However, if you have the symptoms depicted above you should go to the hospital for X-rays.
- Initial Phase (Limit inflammation and bleeding)
Rest, with the ankle elevated and compressed
- Crutches, for the first 24 hours to allow for weight-bearing, without being excessive
- Gradual weight-bearing, to promote ankle motion
Intermediate Phase (Restore pain free motion)
- Begins when you no longer experience pain at rest
Involves moving your ankle actively in all pain free directions
- Strengthening exercises can begin slowly
- An ankle brace can be used to help manage pain with work, however, it is important to not become dependent on it
Advanced Phase (Restore function)
- Begins when pain free and swelling is no longer present
- Involves advanced exercises that aim to strengthen and reduce the chance of re-injury
- They should be advised by and done in the company of a trained professional
- Complete rest
- When injured, the body produces stress hormones
- This places strain on the body, prolonging the healing period
- This response can be reduced through treatment focusing on the nervous system
Restore Ankle Motion
- Mobilization techniques directed to the foot and ankle joints will promote movement
- With this, it may also promote a faster healing time
What if I do nothing?
Doing nothing may result in a longer recovery time. The tissues may not reach the strength they would have otherwise. The ankle joint may become chronically unstable, which can increase the likelihood of:
- Re-injuring the ankle
- Developing osteoarthritis
Reduce Pain and Swelling
- Pain and swelling cause discomfort and limited motion
- If drawn-out, this can result in a longer than usual healing time and increased risk of re-injury
- Massage and mobilization can be used to minimize these effects
Written by James Goetz for acesportsclinic.com
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