03 Apr Sports Injuries: Ankle Sprains
An ankle sprain can affect almost anyone, not only athletes. A person could slip on the pavement whilst walking or even roll their foot when dancing, and this could result in a sprain (Karina, 2015). A sprained ankle happens when the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together stretch or tear, this can occur when the ankle is rolled or twisted in an awkward position (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2020). Sprained ankles could either be an inversion sprain – when the foot is twisted upwards, and the ankle rolls inward or an eversion sprain – when the ankle rolls outward and tears the deltoid ligament (UPMC, n.d).
Depending on the severity of the injury symptoms may include:
- Instability of the ankle
- Restricted ankle movement
- Tenderness when the ankle is touched.
- The ankle being unable to bear any weight.
Typical causes of ankle sprains are:
- A fall that twists the ankle.
- Landing awkwardly on the foot after jumping or pivoting.
- Walking or exercising on uneven surfaces.
- A collision with another person, where they step or land on the foot.
Participating in sports that require jumping and a sudden instantaneous change of direction can increase the chance of a sprain to the ankle. Examples of these types of sports are football, tennis, rugby, trail running and field hockey. Poor physical condition, having prior ankle injuries and using improper shoes are other factors that could result in sprained ankles (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2020).
Prevention techniques to help avoid ankle sprains from occurring:
- Warming-up before exercising or participating in a sporting activity and then cooling down afterwards.
- Using an ankle support brace or tape on a weak or partially injured ankle.
- Wearing the correct well fitted shoes, especially for specific activities, e.g., when hiking use hiking boots that support the ankle or when cross-country running use a shoe designed to absorb high impact.
- Avoid wearing high heel shoes.
- Maintain good muscle strength and flexibility.
- Practise stability training and balance exercises.
Treatment for an ankle sprain will depend on the severity of the injury, and aims to reduce the pain and swelling, promote the healing of the ligament and restoring ankle function (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2020).
Self-care for sprained ankles can follow the PRICE approach for the first day or two (McIntosh, n.d):
Protection: protecting the area from further damage.
Rest: resting the ankle by avoiding activities that cause pain, swelling and discomfort.
Ice: placing an icepack on the injured area for 15 – 20 minutes and then repeated every 2 – 3 hours.
Compression: compressing the ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling stops, be careful not to stop blood flow.
Elevation: Elevating the ankle to a level above the heart as gravity will drain the excess fluids.
In an Osteopathic treatment you can expect the problem with your ankle addressed, receive advise on relevant exercises, stretches to prevent further injury to the area, and improve the tissue stability (McIntosh n.d). Surgery may be required if the ankle does not heal properly and remains unstable (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2020).