Sprained ankles pretty much are just that, and you often know when you have one…usually after some kind of physical trauma – everything from contact sports to stepping off the curb the wrong way. The tenderness and swelling that accompanies a sprained ankle is usually described as “softball” sized, and can also be accompanied by a beautiful array of colorful bruising around the inside and outside of the ankle as well as onto the top of the foot.
As with this injury, it doesn’t take much to figure it out. Usually there’s some kind of trauma involving the ankle to be rolled to the inside while pressure is put on the outside, overpowering the ligaments. However, there’s more to it than just a stretched ligament. There are usually a series of other structures stretched at the same time, including the muscles that generally evert your ankle. With this, there is typically pain felt on the underside of the midfoot that goes unnoticed. Pain at the outside aspect of the shin by the knee is also a probable finding.
There are three grades of ankle sprains, and Grade 1’s are the most common. Grades 2 and 3 usually involve more invasive treatment, at times requiring surgery. However, the physician can assess your severity and direct you to the best facility for treatment.
With the advances in treatment techniques come ways to treat ankles and re-set the alignment of the ankle joint. However, while ankle adjustments speed up the healing process, the same restrictions about “RICE” (rest, ice, compression and elevation) should be followed as much as possible. This is done routinely with Grade 1’s and mild in my office and most paitents are pleased because the quickened healing gets them back on the field sooner!
Over the past 10 years, it’s not only been the sports athlete from basketball, baseball and football that has presented with this injury. With the increased flare and enhanced movements from cheerleading(tossing, etc.) to “extreme” sports (biking, skateboarding, etc), no one is perfect the first time, and ankle injuries are sure to persist.