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What is a sprained ankle & how to management

What is a Sprained Ankle & How to Manage It

What is an Ankle Sprain?

A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when the ankle rolls, twists or turns in opposite direction. This can tear ligaments that assist in holding the ankle bones together.

Ankle Sprain is very common in people who play different sports. A sprained ankle can sometimes continuously occur with these types of individuals, however continuous strain on the muscle can cause serious injuries.

A sprained ankle causes swelling, pain and limited ankle joint range of motion which negatively affect the gait causing limping, stressing excessively on certain muscles which lead to muscle tear and weakness.

What to look for?

If you feel like you have sprained your ankle the most common signs to look for are student onset of pain in your ankle or lower calf and swelling in the area. 

If you are suffering from chronic ankle instability you may find you experience postural sway and decreased joint position sense.

Types of sprains

Lateral ankle sprains: These involve lateral collateral ligament which consists of 3 ligaments: anterior talofibular, posterior talofibular, and calcaneofibular. Caused by Planter flexion and inversion injuries usually damaging the anterior talofibular ligament, and possible the calcaneofibular ligament, rarely the posterior talofibular except in total dislocation.

Medial ankle sprains: involve the deltoid ligaments which are anterior tibiotalar, posterior talotibia, tibiocalcaneal and tibionavicular. It is stronger than the lateral collateral so sprains are less common, but are caused by eversion injuries, often combined with rotational injuries and syndesmosis sprains.

Higher ankle sprains: involve the syndesmosis joint at the distal tibiofibular (bones separated by prolongation of synovial membrane from ankle and connected by interosseous ligament, a continuation of the interosseous membrane, and the anterior and posterior inferior tibiofibular ligaments. Caused by external rotation injuries of with eversion injuries.

Chronic ankle instability: can result after ankle sprains when articular mechanoreceptors are damaged so is a result of neuromuscular and proprioceptive factors.

7 Ways to Manage your ankle sprain

  1. In the first 24 hours it is strongly advised to rest the ankle and apply ice to the area every 2 hours for 20 minutes to decrease pain and swelling.
  2. It is recommended that you go to get an X-ray of both the foot and ankle region when you are experiencing pain at the posterior lateral or medial malleolus which is the front of your ankle, or the navicular or styloid process. An X-ray is also recommended when you are unable to walk more than 4 steps in a row.
  3. You should strap your ankle with a horse-shoe shaped felt pad around the malleolus underneath can provide compression to reduce swelling.
  4. There are certain tests you can do such as a Biomechanical assessment. This involves an in-depth and thorough examination of how your joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons move. From this, your specialist can develop a custom made orthotic to improve stability and prevent further damage to the ligament.
  5. Assessment and orthoses with Rear Foot posting is another option in order to stabilise the Subtalar joint to improve balance and stability. Rear foot posting is intended to invert the rearfoot of theorthotic (and the foot) a specific number of degrees enabling the subtalar joint to function around its neutral position
  6. When swelling and pain lessens treatment should be aimed to increase motion and strength which will aid in circulation and help eliminate residual inflammatory agents, stretching the calf’s the progressing to strengthening the Dorsiflexion /Plantarflexion, Inversion/Eversion with toe scrunches, heel raises, single squats and fibular strengthening. Also proprioception activities for example a wobble board can help with ankle instability.
  7. In 2-4 weeks return to activity gradually, begin with alternative exercise to increase fitness and muscle strength such as cycling, swimming before weight-bearing activities. Ankle taping/heel locks during activity can help enhance proprioception. Wearing high-topped shoes and ankle braces can also provide stability.

What next?

To help manage your ankle pain, a podiatrist can assist in biomechanical assessments and custom-made orthotics to supply better stability and stop ankle sprains.

We can help you write a rehab program to assist you to get back to daily basis activity and sport after an ankle sprain injury.

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