What is an Ankle Sprain?
Among the ankle and foot injuries that occur to sports people, ankle sprains are the most frequently recorded.
Ankle sprains occur when there is a stretch of the ligaments beyond their elastic limit. The ligaments then tear. People participating in sports, walking on uneven surfaces, or those wearing inappropriate shoes may experience ankle sprains. This condition can occur to people of all ages.
Depending on the degree to which tear occurred during the time of injury, sprains range from mild to severe. Most injuries are mild and can be home treated through rest and application of ice. However, make sure you see your podiatrist if you experience pain applying any pressure on your ankle, or if it is swollen. If you don’t receive proper treatment and rehabilitation, a severe sprain can weaken your ankle, and therefore it is prone to be injured again, leading to long term problems like ongoing instability, arthritis, and chronic ankle pain.
To keep the joints stabilized, all ligaments have boundaries, and a limited and specific range of motion. When the ligaments around the ankle stretch beyond these boundaries, you experience a sprain. Most sprains occur as a result of injury to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
Your podiatrist can help you to determine the severity of the sprain and recommend the most appropriate rehabilitation procedure. It usually takes several weeks or months to recover completely from a sprained ankle.
What Causes an Ankle Sprain?
An ankle sprain mostly occurs when the ankle joint is forced out of its normal position due to a sudden rolling or twisting of the foot. An inversion sprain occurs when the ankle twists inward due to unexpected or sudden movement. This causes the tear of one or more ligaments around the ankle to stretch beyond its normal limit. The sprain may also cause the damage of tendons, blood vessels, or cartilage. This tear may cause swelling or bruising. One may also feel pain when weight or pressure is applied to the affected area. Your ankle may also be sprained if you notice the following conditions around it;
- Inability to apply weight on the affected ankle
- Skin discoloration
Since the ankle can experience many more types of injuries, it is recommended to visit a podiatrist to ascertain whether the injury is a sprain or a more severe ailment.
How Is an Ankle Sprain Diagnosed?
To identify the torn ligaments, your podiatrist will move your ankle joint in different directions. During the physical exercise, he will also determine the range of motion.
To rule out the situation of a bone fracture, the podiatrist may use imaging tests like the X-ray. In cases where there is suspicion of a bone chipping, injury to the surface of the ankle joint, or serious ligament damage, an MRI may be done.
Sometimes, when the ligaments are completely torn leading to an injury of the surface of the ankle joint, it may be unstable even when the injury has healed.
How Can I Prevent an Ankle Sprain?
You can reduce your future peril for sprains by:
- Swathing the ankle that is affected by an elastic bandage
- If necessary, wearing a brace
- Performing balancing exercises as you recover and before exercise
- Avoiding high heeled shoes
- Wearing quality footwear
- Warming up before exercise
- Being careful of the surfaces upon which you tread
- When you feel tired, reduce or stop physical activity
- If the ankle is left untreated, it can result in long-term pain and ankle instability.
What are the treatment options?
Surgery is not a prerequisite in most of the ankle sprains, even in severe cases. The ligaments can heal without surgery. The necessary treatment is determined by the grade of the sprain. Traditionally, several grades are used to classify sprains. The most important grading criteria are the ability to bear weight. Some patients can carry some weight immediately after the injury. These are likely to heal much faster. The rest who can’t bear any pressure may be immobilized for some time.
Generally, treatment during the first 48 to 72 hours entails resting the ankle, icing it for 20 minutes at intervals of about two hours, a compressing wrap, and elevating the leg above the nose’s level. A removable walking boot is used for those patients who may not be able to bear weight.
Physical therapy is important. Patients need to train and strengthen muscles like the peroneal around the ankle. Athletes can use an ankle brace until their therapist confirms that they are able to perform physical activities without it fully. Surgery may only be important to patients who have problems like cartilage damage.
At Optimum Care Foot and Ankle Clinic we provide provide different treatment options from proper offloading using a moon boot or CAM walker to different injection therapies such as Prolotherapy treatment for ankle pain. Please contact use for more information. Contact us on 03 9077 5915 for further assessment and treatment.