One of the most common athletic injuries is an ankle sprain, which occurs when the ankle rolls, or twists, inward and over-stretches or even tears the outward ligaments. Immediate pain follows and bruising as well as swelling can occur. Injury can happen when landing with the ankle twisted underneath the foot after a jump, called inversion, or from on player stepping on another’s. Due to how common this injury can occur, sometimes it is undertreated and can develop into a chronic injury.
As football season starts and children begin training for school sports, it is important to treat ankle sprains seriously.
Immediately after the sprain transpires follow up with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). The less strain put on the injured ankle the more it helps with recovery time. Using ice for 15-20 minutes several times a day, compressing with an elastic wrap, and elevating the ankle above the heart may reduce swelling.
Visit a sports medicine physician to determine if more damaged has been done to the tissue, ligaments, or bones – which is considered an ankle fracture. After evaluating the seriousness of the injury, implement RICE and slowly build up weight tolerance again with range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. These exercises can be performed at home or with a physical therapist for one-on-one treatment. Restoring strength and balance is very important before starting up strenuous activities again.
Most ankle sprains are classified as simple injuries. However, it is always safe to follow up any sprain with the right immediate treatment, evaluation to determine seriousness of injury, and exercising procedures to ensure the injury recovers properly. Should the sprain not be fully recovered, it may develop into a chronic problem with reoccurring pain, swelling, repetitive injury, and could even progress into arthritis.
Ankle sprains can be predisposed in people with a hindfoot varus, where the placement of the heel is slightly turned toward the inside. Those who have had ankle sprains in the past are more likely to cause a new sprain. That is why balance and strengthening exercises are so important to build up stability in the “weak” ankle.