Bruised ankle with swelling and discoloration.

So you just sprained your ankle, what should you do? Many people underestimate their ankle sprain and end up ignoring it. What if you leave an Ankle Sprain untreated? Did you know that by putting up with the pain and swelling for too long you may be further injuring your ankle? If an ankle sprain is not diagnosed or treated properly the ligaments stretch out leading to further injury. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI) and Osteoarthritis.

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Who among us has not sprained an ankle or a ligament? These injuries are extremely common both in children and adults. According to the authors at UpToDate, ankle sprains are the number one injury seen at the emergency room! People have sprained an ankle while running, jumping or even walking their dog! Uneven surfaces are notorious for causing us to “Roll” our ankles.

What to do Immediately after an Ankle Sprain

First, Rest. Get off of the injured ankle. Do not walk on it any longer than you have to, do not keep running or cycling. Ice. Apply cold compress or an ice bag, the cold actually helps relieve inflammation. Compression. Apply an ACE bandage or elastic ankle support. Elevation. Prop the leg up at an elevation higher than your chest or just on a chair, by propping it up you reduce swelling.

Types of Ankle Sprains

According to the National Institutes of Health, NIH; Lateral ankle sprains comprised 91.74%, medial ankle sprains 0.26%, high ankle sprains 0.18%, and “unknown” 7.82%

This image reveals some of the anatomy involved in ankle sprains including ligament and bone. It illustrates the difference between Inversion and Eversion Ankle Sprains.
The image illustrates the difference between Inversion and Eversion Ankle Sprains.

In an Inversion Sprain the Lateral Ligaments are injured. Whereas in an Eversion Sprain the Medial Ligaments are injured.

The problem is that many are never diagnosed nor treated properly.

Which Ligaments are injured in an Ankle Sprain?

Please see the images below.

Image result for ankle sprain images public. This image identifies the ankle ligaments involved in a Low Ankle Sprain and illustrates the particular movement which results in the injury.
The diagram identifies the ligaments involved in a Low Ankle Sprain and the direction of movement which results in the injury.

Image illustrates the four parts of the Deltoid Ligament of the ankle; Posterior Tibio-Talar, Tibio-Calcaneal, Anterior Tibio-Talar and Tibio-Navicular ligaments.
The Four Parts of the Deltoid Ligament. The Deltoid Ligament is on the Medial side of the Ankle.

Lateral Ankle Ligaments. The Lateral Collateral Ligaments, the Anterior and Posterior Talo-Fibular and Calcaneo-Fibular ligaments.
Image result for ankle sprain images public. This image illustrates and identifies the ankle ligaments involved in a High Ankle Sprain.
This drawing illustrates the ligaments injured in a High Ankle Sprain.

How Long will it take my ankle sprain to Heal?

The time to heal depends upon the Severity or Grade of ankle sprain

Grades of Ankle Sprains and average Healing Time

Grade 1: Mild stretching, no tearing. Recovery time 1-3 weeks.

Grade 2: Partial tear, mild to moderate joint instability. Recovery time 3-6 weeks

Grade 3: Complete tear, loss of function, inability to bear weight. Recovery time several months.

Image result for free images ankle sprains. The images classify the ankle sprains according to severity, Grades I-III. The images depict the ligaments involved in the injury.
Grade I is the mildest injury and Grade III is the most severe of the Ankle Sprains.

The severity of an Ankle Sprain is dependent upon the number of ligaments injured, the more ligaments injured the more severe the sprain and subsequently, the longer the recovery. Most ankle sprains do not require surgery, however; if there is a Grade 3 complete tear surgery is recommended.

Is it Safe to Walk on an Ankle Sprain?

It is best to Rest an injury for two reasons; First, by getting off the injured limb you prevent further damage and Pain, Second, only after a few hours to days can you tell how severe the injury is.

Preventing Further Injury

In order to recover from an ankle sprain properly and prevent further injury and arthritis it is best to seek medical care and rehabilitation. Dr. Danielle Torp at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, UNCC; led a study where patients with Chronic Ankle Instability were given biofeedback training in order to protect their ankles from further injury. Essentially, patients ‘Learned’ how to walk in a safer manner.

In an article published in July 2018, researchers Drs. Owoeye, Palacios-Derflingher and Emery found that a pre-practice warmup which includes Neuromuscular Training reduced the risk of Ankle Sprain by 32%.

Early diagnosis is key

As with all injures, early diagnosis and treatment results in not only less suffering but a more favorable outcome in the long term. If you get help early you will have a better outcome. The problem with ignoring these injuries is that the ligament will stretch and not heal properly, as a result it will be predisposed to further injury which will lead to even further injury eventually requiring surgery and likely irreversible consequences. Its a domino effect. Ankle sprain if ignored becomes weak. In my office I use diagnostics sensitive enough to reveal a ligament injury before an x-ray or MRI will reveal it. If you’ve sprained your ankle, I can help. Call for your appointment today. 814.882.2663.

Ankle Sprains
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