What is an ankle sprain.
All it takes is one simple misstep, and suddenly you have a sprained ankle.
An ankle sprain is one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in people of all ages, athletes and people who lead sedentary lives. The injury occurs when one or more of the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn, causing pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Many people try to get over ankle injuries and do not seek medical attention. But if an ankle sprain causes more than mild pain and swelling, it’s important to see a doctor. Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a severely injured ankle may not heal properly and could lose its range of motion and stability, resulting in recurrent sprains and more downtime in the future.
Anatomy of an ankle sprain
The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion injury, or lateral ankle sprain. The foot rolls inward, damaging the external ankle ligaments: the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament and the posterior talofibular ligament.
Ligaments are elements of connective tissue – also called soft tissue – that connect bones together (see Figure).
Less common are sprains that affect the ligaments on the inside of the ankle (medial ankle sprains) and syndesmotic sprains, which injure the tibiofibular ligaments, the ligaments that join the two bones of the leg (the tibia and fibula) just above the ankle. Syndesmotic sprains, which occur most often in contact sports, are especially likely to cause chronic ankle instability and subsequent sprains.
Degrees of injury in ankle sprain
The severity of an ankle sprain depends on how much damage it causes and how unstable the joint becomes as a result. The more severe the sprain, the longer the recovery.
A total of 3 grades are defined depending on the damage and symptoms:
- Grade 1. Minimal stretching, no tearing. It usually presents with mild pain, swelling and tenderness and no bruising. There is no joint instability or weight-bearing difficulty. Recovery time between 1 to 3 weeks.
- Grade 2. Partial tear. This type of injury usually manifests moderate pain, swelling and tenderness with the appearance of a possible bruise. Mild to moderate joint instability with some loss of range of motion and function. It causes pain with weight bearing and walking. Recovery time between 3 to 6 weeks.
- Grade 3. Complete tear or rupture. Severe pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising. Significant instability and loss of function and range of motion. Unable to bear weight or walk. Recovery time of several months.
Immediate treatment of an ankle sprain.
The first goal is to decrease pain and swelling and protect the ligaments from further injury. Analgesics, cold therapy and the application of topical products are recommended to shorten the recovery time of the injury and the recovery of the function of the damaged ligaments. See the specifications of Pentalium CBD for its inflammation modulating action in the regulation of oedema and other short-term symptoms.
To reduce swelling, it is also advisable to use an occlusive bandage together with which you can apply, simultaneously, the same topical product mentioned above.
When seated, raise your ankle as high as you comfortably can, to hip height, if possible. In the first 24 hours, avoid anything that can increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot compresses, or rubbing that can generate heat.
Some factors that increase the risk of an ankle sprain are:
- Sports practice. Ankle sprains are common sports injuries, especially in sports that require jumping, changing direction quickly, or stretching or twisting the feet, such as basketball, tennis, football, soccer, and trail running.
- Irregular surfaces. Walking or running on uneven surfaces or on a field in poor condition can increase the risk of an ankle sprain.
- previous ankle injuries Once an ankle is sprained or otherwise injured, it is more likely to be sprained again.
- Poor physical condition. If you don’t have enough strength or flexibility in your ankles, you may be at a higher risk of spraining them when you play sports.
- Inadequate footwear. Shoes that don’t fit properly or aren’t appropriate for a certain activity, as well as high-heeled shoes in general, make ankles more vulnerable to injury.
In the next post we will show you some exercises aimed at restoring function and preventing new ankle injuries.
Source: Adapted from Maughan KL, “Ankle Sprain” and Ivins D, “Acute Ankle Sprain: An Update,” American Family Physician, 74, 10, pp. 1714–20. 2006.