What Is An Ankle Sprain?
An injury the lateral (outside) or medial (inside) ligaments of the ankle. There are 3 grades of a sprain. Grade 1 sprain: injury to the ligament without stretching of the ligament. Grade 2 sprain: injury to the ligament with overstretching of the ligament. Grade 3 sprain: ligament tear/rupture.
What Are The Causes Of An ATFL Injury?
Sprains most often affect the outside of the ankle and are usually caused by:
- Rolling the ankle,
- Body weight rapidly comes down onto an unstable or poorly positioned ankle
- Ligaments overstretch or tear
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Ankle Sprain?
If you have ankle weakness you may feel tenderness, swelling, bruising, painful range of motion (especially when moving the foot inward), inability to fully bear weight through the ankle.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Ankle Instability?
Common risk factors that could lead to ankle sprains are:
- Previous ankle sprains
- Ankle instability
- Improper footwear
How Is Ankle Sprain Diagnosed?
An ankle ligament injury is diagnosed by a physical therapist when a patient presents with the signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain and exhibits positive findings to specialized ankle tests. MRI imaging or x-ray may assist in obtaining how severe the sprain is.
What Are The Possible Treatments For An Ankle Sprain?
Initially, after injury, it is important to rest, ice and elevate the affected area to reduce inflammation. Some patients may also benefit from compression and ankle bracing. Manual therapy aids in the reduction of swelling, improving ankle and foot joint mobility and improving pain-free range of motion. Soft tissue work reduces muscle tightness and muscle guarding and improves muscular flexibility. Exercise prescription includes active ROM, ankle/lower leg/hip strengthening. Treatment continues with progressing strengthening exercises for the ankle/lower leg/hips, stabilization exercise, functional dynamic exercise, plyometrics, balance and stability training, and neuromuscular re-education.
Are There Preventative Steps Or Measures To Avoid An Ankle Sprain?
To prevent future issues it is key to take the proper rehabilitation steps from previous ankle sprain injuries, possible bracing during sports for patients with ankle instability, and good footwear choices.
What Are The Risks If An Ankle Sprain Is Left Untreated?
If an ankle sprain is left untreated it may develop into chronic ankle instability, future sprains or ligament tears.
Are There Other Related Conditions To An Ankle Sprain?
An ankle sprain may just be the beginning of an injury or the key indication of other, more serious issues such as an ankle fracture, foot fracture, or avulsion fracture.
Key Takeaways About Ankle Ligament Injuries
-Proper rehabilitation is key to recovery and prevention of future ankle sprains and injury. Previous sprains are the number one risk factor for future sprains.
-In addition to strengthening the ankle and obtaining a full and pain-free range of motion, patients must participate in balance and stability training to completely rehabilitate the ankle.
-For individuals who participate in running or other high-level sports, plyometric training is essential to completely rehabilitate the ankle.