Sprains are injuries to the body which are often a result from physical activity. The injury is usually the result from stretching or tearing the outside ligaments of the joint. Ankle sprains are the most common and occur when the ankle is rolled either inward (inversion sprain) or outward (eversion sprain). In severe cases, the ligament can actually rapture, resulting in tissue damage and complete instability of the joint. Minor sprains can sometimes occur without you noticing.
Symptoms of sprains typically include limited mobility, inflammation, pain, swelling and bruising over the area of pain, difficulty walking or putting weight on the ankle, inability to move the ankle and weakness and instability in the ankle.
Risk factors for ankle sprains:
- History (previous) of ankle sprains.
- Walking, running or playing on uneven surfaces.
- Hypermobility, supinated (high arch) foot type.
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit well or don’t have good support.
- Playing sports that require a sudden change in direction – jumping and landing awkwardly from a jump or side step (football, soccer, basketball).
- Muscle weakness, poor proprioception and poor previous ankle rehabilitation.
Our podiatrists can evaluate ankle injuries by obtaining a comprehensive history of symptoms, performing a biomechanical assessment and video gait analysis. Diagnostic imaging including an X-ray and ultrasound may be prescribed by the podiatrist to review the extent of the damage to the ankle ligaments. In severe cases, an MRI may be needed to rule out other problems in the ankle such as damage to the articular joint cartilage.
Based on the findings a combination of treatment options may be prescribed including:
- Rest and Ice – keeping off the foot and reducing activity prevents further injury and encourages healing. Ice can reduce inflammation, swelling and symptoms.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – help reduce the pain and inflammation such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
- Footwear recommendations.
- Custom made orthotic therapy – orthotics may be prescribed to address any biomechanical factors such as over pronation and over supination.
- Immobilization – restricting movement in a brace or cast is sometime necessary to reduce symptoms and reduce pressure on the tibial nerve.
- Ultrasound therapy.
- Prescribed strengthening exercises.