Ankle sprains are the most common reason for missed athletic participation as well as the most common injury for dancers. Ankle sprains are caused by an inversion injury at the ankle joint. This type of injury commonly occurs in sports such as tennis or basketball that require quick side to side movement. An ankle sprain may also occur while walking on uneven ground, such as hiking, or by stepping off of a curb. Symptoms include ankle pain, swelling, and inability to weight bear.
The lateral ankle ligament complex consists of 3 distinct ligaments; the ATFL, CFL, and PTFL. These 3 ligaments play an important role in stabilizing the ankle joint. An ankle sprain is the rupture, tearing, or stretching of these ankle ligaments. The ATFL and CFL ligaments are the most common ligaments to be injured. Ankle sprains are typically categorized in different grades by their severity. A Grade I ankle sprain has only mild swelling, no ligament stretch or tear, and patients are able to weight bear with minimal pain. A Grade II ankle sprain has moderate swelling, stretching of the ligament(s), mild-moderate pain on weight bearing. A Grade III ankle sprain is the most severe type with severe swelling and bruising, complete tear or rupture of the ligament(s), with severe pain and typically unable to weight bear.
Non-operative treatment with RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) are first line treatment for the majority of cases. Early mobilization has shown better recovery so immobilization in a boot or cast is only performed for short periods of time. Once the swelling and pain has subsided, therapy is initiated focusing on ankle strengthening and proprioception training. Early functional rehab has shown the quickest return to physical activity. High level athletes with a severe tear or rupture may require surgery to repair the ligaments. New techniques have shown quicker recovery as well as quicker return to sports activities with this treatment.
Without proper treatment, ankle sprains may develop a condition called Lateral Ankle Instability which puts patients at risk for additional ankle sprains. An osteochondral defect or damage to the ankle joint surface may occur at the time of injury which can cause a popping or catching sensation along with pain. This joint damage can lead to further damage and arthritis in the future. Tendons may also get damaged during an ankle sprain. Small avulsion fractures may also occur.
Your foot and ankle specialist at Advanced Foot and Ankle Center in Mckinney and Prosper TX will perform a thorough examination along with xrays and other imaging depending on your symptoms and timeline of injury. They will outline a proper treatment protocol based on your symptoms and condition to get you back to pain free walking and physical activity. Call us today at 972-542-2155 to set up your appointment!
Look out for our upcoming blog posts about High Ankle Sprains, Osteochondral defects, Peroneal Tendon injuries, and other related conditions.