So 2018 is well under way and you were all set to hit the gym and kick it off in unbelievable style! Unfortunately though you’ve hurt an ankle dancing on the table with your nan or twisted it whilst roller skating with your crazy aunt! We’ve all been there! But fear not Body Solve is here to help!
WHAT EXACTLY IS A SPRAINED ANKLE??
An ankle that is ‘sprained’ is caused by ligaments that become overstretched. A sprain can differ in severity from the mild, and moderate sprain to the complete rupture of ligaments with some causing convulsion (tearing off) of bone at the same time (tasty hey!?).
Ankle sprains are graded in 3 categories:
Grade 1: Mild damage to ligament(s) Grade 2: Partial tear to ligament(s) causing laxity on full stretch Grade 3: Complete rupture to the ligament(s)
HOW DID I GET THIS SPRAINED ANKLE?
Often the most simplest of thing can tweak an ankle, stepping awkwardly off a curb, doing the final lift off dirty dancing with your other half, pushing yourself too hard on those beautiful white ski slopes or even dancing your heart out in heels (that are definitely not too high) and stumbling face first onto the dance floor.
Some of the more common sprained ankles happen when running, football where the foot is planted and the leg is rotated, landing onto one foot or placing the foot onto an uneven surface.
Whichever way the ankle sprain happens it can often be highly frustrating, painful and if not rehabilitated correctly – take a very long time to heal.
SYMPTOMS OF A SPRAINED ANKLE
Without knowing what caused the ankle sprain makes it difficult to say what exactly your symptoms may be. Some people with a long history of ankle sprains still experience pain day to day within the ankle region.
If you haven’t ever had an ankle sprain before and suspect you may have sprained your ankle you may well have heard an audible ‘pop’ or ‘crack’, there will likely be some kind of swelling, sharp shooting pain, dull aching further away from the area sprained area and undoubtedly some kind of bruising depending on the severity of the sprain.
Walking over the coming few weeks may indeed be difficult and in some cases you may even need to use a crutch, strapping and taping or a support boot to keep you mobile. At Body Solve, for grade 1 and 2 sprains we encourage to weight bare as much as possible… How is a ligament going to regain strength and proprioception (your ankle knowing where it is in space and time) if you do not exercise these positions??
DIAGNOSIS OF A SPRAINED ANKLE
In an ideal world we would all have access to MRI’s, Ultrasound, CT scanners and x ray for rapid and precise diagnosis of our injuries and ailments. Unfortunately however without unlimited funds or long queues and waiting times this is almost never the case.
The addition of the local walk in Physio is very handy but often they are time stricken, overworked and in most visits a long wait for a very short amount of face time. When possible, visit your local Sports therapist or Osteopath and get a diagnosis as quickly as possible.
It should involve an in depth health consultation and history of how the ankle sprain was caused, a practical examination of the area along (with a good laugh if you actually did sprain your ankle roller skating with your crazy aunt), along with a movement assessment to see how limited or free the ankle is moving and how much pain is caused when doing so.
The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner the rehabilitation can commence, the shorter the rehabilitation length (hopefully).
LIGAMENTS INVOLVED WITH A SPRAINED ANKLE So this is where it gets a bit technical – The ankle joint or talo-crural joint is made of three bones – The Tibia, Fibula and Talus; this is the joint that lets you point and flex your toes.
The subtalar joint sits just underneath it and is comprised of the Navicular and Calcaneus; this joint allows you to turn your feet inwards ad outwards. The ankle ligaments attach from each of these bones and in turn restrict the motion at each separate joint.
The ligaments that are most likely to have been sprained are on the outside or lateral portion of the ankle and are called:
1. Calcaneofibular (CFL) 2. Posterior Talo-Fibular (PTFL) 3. Anterior Talo-Fibular (ATFL)
The ligaments on the inside of the ankle, the ‘Deltoid Ligaments’ can be sprained and damaged but it is less likely and are often associated with much more serious injuries that we won’t talk about today.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR A SPRAINED ANKLE? If you’ve sprained your ankle there’s some unfortunate news… there is a fairly high chance of reinjuring that ankle in the future with around a 35-75% chance of it happening again. However, with the correct treatment, rehabilitation exercise and careful planning you can decrease the risk of re-injury dramatically.
The tricky thing with ligament injuries is that recovery happens on a micro and a macro scale. Most of us want a quick fix and to get back into our sport, training or roller blading with our aunt as quickly as possible. Unfortunately that isn’t the case.
Many factors affect the time of complete recovery of the ligament including the grade of sprain, how soon rehab was initiated, the persons health, whether they’re a smoker (smoking will prolong the recovery time of the injury due to decreased oxygen supply to the tissues) and the amount rehabilitation the person does outside of treatment.
On a micro scale ligaments usually take around 2-8 weeks to heal. On a macro scale, way past the hands on treatment and stability disc stuff, ligaments can take up to 18 months to recover – now can you see why ankle sprains reoccur when they’re not rehabilitated properly.
Body Solve ideal treatment aims for ankle ligament sprains:
* Education so to avoid injury at all * Aim to regain full range of movement, painfree * Build strength through the larger and small muscles around the damaged area * Increase proprioception and motor control/balance * Ensure the complete restoration of normal joint function * Begin speed and movement work * Re-introduce hobby/sport specific skills at a very light / low load stage * Progress to heavier loading and increased difficulty in skill level * Back to full training and competition
We hope you've enjoyed reading!
Now get back out on those roller skates !