Sprained Ankles & How To Prevent Them
Now we have all rolled our ankle, right?
Whether it’s been playing sport or after a few too many at the local on a Friday night.
In fact, it is one of the most common injuries treated across injury clinics in the UK every year. So, what causes a “Sprained ankle” and what can you do to prevent it from happening…
An ankle sprain occurs when you twist, roll, or turn your ankle awkwardly. This quick sharp movement causes damage to the ankle ligaments, which help to keep your ankle stable. The ankle ligaments role is to prevent excessive movement at your ankle joint. When you roll your ankle, the main ligaments that you injure are on the outside of the foot. Think of them as tough bands of rope, stretching and pulling to keep your ankle in the correct position.
When you sprain your ankle there will be a few key signs and symptoms that you will experience:
- Localised pain around the ankle area when weight bearing.
- Tenderness when you touch around the ankle, especially the outside.
- The skin may feel hot to the touch
- Your ankle may feel unstable, especially when walking.
Not all ankle sprains are the same. With any injury symptoms can differ person to person. Furthermore, the severity of the sprain will depend on how sharp the twist was. Some sprains will result in minor swelling and bruising, whereas others will really look like you’ve hit your ankle with a hammer!
In general ankle sprains are categorised into 3 types:
Grade 1 – A split stretching of the ankle ligaments with minor tearing. Swelling & Bruising will be minor and walking without pain should be possible.
Grade 2 – Moderate tearing of the ankle ligaments with more severe swelling & bruising. Walking will be more painful, and your ankle will feel weak or unstable.
Grade 3 – This is a complete tear of the ligament, Uh Oh. Often people describe hearing a loud pop or crack when this injury occurs. You will experience high levels of pain, bruising and swelling. If you have a Grade 3 tear normally the approach to treatment involves having surgery, however research does show that if immobilized and rehabilitated correctly, the injury will heal on its own.
If you have sprained your ankle and are experiencing similar symptoms, then the below treatment information will be very useful.
- As soon as the injury occurs you should follow the R.I.C.E protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). This will help reduce the initial symptoms and begin the healing process. Look, we know it’s boring, but your body needs it!
- For Grade 2 or 3 Sprains, walking boots or braces may be used to immobilize the joint.
- Weightbearing activities are recommended to slight sprains if pain allows it.
- With Grade 1 sprains this phase can normally begin sooner.
- This phase is focussed on beginning functional rehab.
- If you are working with a physical therapist or physiotherapist, you will be completing range of motion exercises, isometric strengthening and proprioceptive training.
- Normally if a brace or boot was being used in Phase 1, this will now be removed to help prevent joint stiffness.
- Your exercises should gradually become more difficult as you enter the end of your rehabilitation program.
- Initially exercises will avoid sharp twisting movements, but as the injury heals, It’s important to test and strengthen the ankle in these movements.
It is extremely important that you follow a structured rehabilitation plan with ankle sprains. This type of injury is extremely prone to reoccurrence. When you injure the ankle ligaments, you damage the ankles proprioception. I bet you are thinking, wait what does that mean? To keep it as simple as possible, there are cells within your ankle ligaments, that ensure your ankle is in the correct position when moving. If you damage these cells, your ankle will not be in the correct place when you are walking, running, or exercising. This means that you then be prone to more ankle sprains & so the cycles continues!
Along with completing a thorough rehab plan you can also try some simple tips to help prevent future ankle sprains:
- Warm up before you exercise or play sports.
- Take more care when walking on unstable surfaces.
- Wear appropriate shoes for everyday activities & sports.
- Maintain good muscle strength and flexibility, especially in the lower leg.
- Continue to complete simple rehab exercises, even when not injured.
- Reduce the time spent wearing high heeled shoes.
Book an Appointment
If you are suffering with an ankle sprain and not sure what to do, then please get in contact. At our Newcastle injury clinic, we have great experience treating this type of injury, along with a variety of other acute and chronic problems.
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