Ankle sprains are common injuries that can affect people of all ages or fitness levels. The majority of the population has likely experienced an ankle sprain at one point. When a sprain occurs, most think “no big deal” and prematurely return to their usual routine only to sprain it again. This is a common phenomenon as most people do not seek treatment for ankle sprains, resulting in recurrent sprains or “weak ankles”. Hopefully, understanding the potential consequences of ankle injuries will prompt more people to seek medical treatment sooner and prevent the long term consequence such as chronic ankle instability.
An ankle sprain is defined as an injury to one or more of the ankle ligaments. Ligaments are band like structures that connect one bone to another and hold joints together. Anyone can be affected including adults, children, athletes and non-athletes. A sprain can be a result of physical activity, tripping/stepping wrong, direct or indirect trauma. They often occur after a fall, sudden twist or trauma that forces the ankle joint out of its normal position. This commonly occurs during sports, wearing inappropriate shoes, walking or running on uneven surfaces.
The severity of the sprain depends on whether the ankle ligament is stretched, partially torn or completely torn as well as how many ankle ligaments were damaged. It’s important to note, that ankle sprains are not the same as strains, which affect muscles rather than ligaments.
Symptoms may include localized pain, ankle swelling, bruising, stiffness and difficulty walking.
Prevention is always better than dealing with an injury. There are many preventative measures one can take to reduce the risk an ankle sprain. When beginning a new exercise program, you want to always increase your activity gradually. Do not be a “weekend warrior”. When engaging in physical activity, listen to your body. Muscles and ligaments become fatigued at or near the end of a vigorous activity. If you “push through” the fatigue rather than resting, you are more likely to experience injury. Always warm up prior to physical activity.
Athletes who go right into vigorous activity without warming up, run a higher risk of ankle sprains and strains. Muscles and ligaments will remain tight, less flexibility and more prone to injury without a warm up period. Appropriate shoe gear is also essential. Shoe gear should be tailored to the specific sport you are engaging in and should not be worn down. Sports like basketball, soccer and tennis involve jumping, quick changes in direction, side to side movement. These movements run a high risk of sprains, therefore you may consider taping or bracing the ankles to increase their stability if you engage in activities such as these.
Prompt Medical Attention
If you suffer an ankle injury, it is best to seek medical treatment early. Sometimes ankle fractures can be mistaken for a sprain. Ankle fractures require immediate treatment and can only be diagnosed with radiographs. Additionally, untreated ankle sprains can lead to the development of chronic conditions such as ankle instability. A condition marked by chronic pain, weakness/instability of the ankle and a sense of the ankle “giving out”. An appropriate rehabilitation program will need to started right away after the injury to prevent long term complications and possible requirement of surgery.
For more information, please contact your local foot and ankle specialist.
DPM, MSHS, AACFAS
For more information, you may contact Dr. Isin Mustafa at Family Foot & Leg Center at (833) 366-8534.
Family Foot & Leg Center has 8 locations throughout Collier, Lee, & Charlotte Counties to quickly resolve all your foot and ankle problems.
(833) 366-8534 (FOOT LEG)
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3161 Harbor Blvd, Suite B, Port Charlotte, FL 33952