Let’s talk about ankle sprains.
1. What is an ankle sprain?
A sprain injury occurs when ligaments, which are soft tissue structures that hold bones together, are damaged. The most common ankle sprain is an inversion type, where the foot rolls over excessively, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
2. What are the causes/predisposing factors of injury?
This injury is usually traumatic. For example, awkward foot placement, or stepping on uneven footing such as gravel or off a curb, can cause this injury. Those who have had previous ankle sprains that were left untreated may also have increased susceptibility to repeated ankle sprains.
3. What are the symptoms?
Immediate pain in the ankle that increases as swelling increases is the usual symptom. Sometimes a snapping or popping sound may be heard as the ligament tears. Bearing weight on the affected leg is usually painful.
4. What can be done to prevent or treat this condition?
Treatment is initially to reduce pain and swelling. The use of ice, compression, elevation, physical therapeutics and relative rest are all advisable. Later care is focused on returning function and coordination to the area, which generally involves specific joint manipulation, strengthening, flexibility, and proprioceptive exercises which can include stability and balance training for the foot.
Prevention is geared at strengthening the muscles supporting the ankle, maintaining flexibility, and proprioception. Proprioception is the ability of the body to coordinate movement; that is to know what position a joint is in time and space, thus allowing appropriate control of movement.