Sprained Ankle Treatment
I think Sprained Ankles may be the most common injury in the Bay Area,
or at least one of the most common injuries on the San Francisco
Peninsula. With all of the athletes in our area, and the ease of rolling
an ankle, it's definitely been one of the most common leg injuries that
we've seen in the Athletic Edge office.
correct sprained ankle treatment will help the injury to heal quicker
and prevent re-occurrence.
joints have ligaments which are strong bands of fibers that go from one
bone to the adjacent one, these ligaments provide stability to the
joint. A joint sprain occurs when one or more ligaments are stretched or
torn. An inversion sprain of the ankle occurs if the ligaments on the
outside of the foot are affected. This happens if the foot goes
underneath the body with the sole of the foot facing inwards, a common
cause of this injury is going over on a curb, or unseen loose stone.
Pain and swelling occurs mainly on the outside of the ankle. Because of
the shape of the bones of the ankle, an eversion sprain is much less
common. It happens if the ankle is turned outwards and affects the
ligaments on the inside of the ankle. Pain and swelling occurs primarily
on the inside of the joint.
Sprained Ankle Treatment in the Immediate Post Injury Period
As soon as possible after the injury apply ice. Using ice as the first
line sprained ankle treatment limits the amount of swelling that builds
up, by temporarily reducing the circulation to the area.
The pneumonic RICE is often used to describe the treatment needed at this stage:
Sprained Ankle Treatment in the Intermediate Period
- Rest: Relative rest is needed, by which is meant refraining from sport and staying off the ankle as much as possible.
- Ice: Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling
- Compression: Use some gentle compression, such as a bandage, to reduce swelling
- Elevation: lie with the foot elevated to reduce swelling.
- Gentle movement of the foot, pulling the toes up, and pointing
down, within the limits of the pain, also starts to reduce swelling and
As time goes on, the foot movement can be increased and it is important
to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and the lower leg by
exercise. Exercises need to be gradually progressed to those done with
the body weight on the foot. The final and probably most important stage
of sprained ankle treatment is to retrain what is known as the
proprioceptive feedback mechanism. All ligaments in the body have a huge
role in telling the brain what position a joint is in. Every fraction
of the second receptors in all joints are sending information to the
brain about the joint's position, in turn the brain activates
appropriate muscles to alter the joint position accordingly. This is
known as the proprioception feedback loop and to prevent injury to a
joint it must happen continuously and rapidly. When the eyes are open
the visual feedback the brain receives also gives the brain a lot of
information about joint position, however if there is for instance an
unseen obstacle or an uneven surface, the proprioceptive mechanism must
work rapidly and effectively to prevent a further sprain from occurring.
Lack of re- training of the proprioception mechanism is the most common
reason that an ankle which has been sprained once would be re-sprained
again in the future. The proprioceptive feedback mechanism is retrained
using balance exercises. A wobble board is a good way of doing this.
Sprained Ankle Treatment, Return to Sport
Many sportspeople find that they lack confidence in the ankle when first
returning to sport and fear a re-sprain. Taping, or an ankle support,
can help in this situation. Care should be taken however to continue to
build up the joint's natural proprioceptive mechanism, so as not to
become over- reliant on a brace or taping.