Ankle Ligament Sprain occurs when ligaments – fibrous structures that hold bones together – become overstretched or strained. A sprained ankle is a very common injury, and the most common injury to the ankle. Sprains typically involve “rolling” the ankle and spraining the three lateral ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Sprains to the ligament on inner side of the ankle (deltoid ligament), or at the top of the ankle can occur, but are far less common and usually involve a significant trauma/injury to the ankle.
Symptoms of Ankle Sprain
Sprained ankles vary in severity, and are usually graded from 1 -3, indicating a mild, moderate and severe sprain, respectively. Common symptoms, depending on severity include:
- Pain and tenderness directly over the ankle
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty weight-bearing/standing
- Prolonged swelling
Causes and Recurrence of Ankle Sprain
Any situation that places excessive strain on the ligaments of the ankle can result in a sprain. Sprained ankles frequently occur when running/walking/stepping on to uneven ground, or landing unevenly after jumping etc. causing the foot to roll outward so that the outer ligaments take the load.
Unfortunately, even minor sprains can result in damage to proprioceptors – receptors that detect, monitor and send information about body position/motion to the brain. Impaired proprioception leads to a reduced ability of the body to detect and correct poor positioning of the foot and this increases the likelihood of more sprains.
Treatment and management
Your osteopath can perform an examination to properly diagnose the condition and can also help re-train your ankle and improve any loss of proprioception. They may also recommend or apply:
- Osteopathic treatment of leg muscles and techniques to begin mobilising the ankle
- Relieving/reducing swelling by keeping the foot elevated
- Rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and improved proprioception in the ankle
- Training modifications and preventative stretches
- Reducing inflammation with medications or ice.
- Referral for medical imaging or specialist review in some cases.
What to avoid
- Avoid continuing with any activity that may aggravate or have caused the injury
- Do not apply heat or heat creams to the affected area
- Do not apply pressure or self-massage to the area
- Do not self-prescribe massage, stretches or exercises