Ankle sprains are among the most common sports injuries. They often occur on the outside of the ankle when the foot rolls outward too far. The injury is usually followed by swelling, bruising, and severe pain. The severity of an ankle sprain is based on the extent of injury to the ankle ligaments. There may be a partial tear to one or several ligaments, or even a complete rupture.
Although ankle sprains happen frequently, they are not to be taken lightly. Recovery can take some time, and after one injury, subsequent sprains are more likely to occur. Therefore after spraining an ankle, it is important for the athlete to seek medical care. A podiatrist can assess the injury and take x-rays to be certain that a fracture is not present. He can also create a treatment plan for the patient to start recovering.
Treatment for ankle sprains depends on the severity, which will be determined by the podiatrist. Most ankle sprains will be treated with the “RICE” protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, may be taken to help reduce pain and swelling. In addition, the doctor may prescribe a brace to protect and offload the injury. Later a brace or taping can also be worn during athletic events to help prevent future sprains.
Often physical therapy is beneficial for rehabilitating a sprained ankle. A physical therapist teaches the patient strengthening exercises and stretching to improve the ankle’s range of motion. The patient may also perform exercises to improve balance when walking and playing sports. Once the ankle has recovered, the patient can slowly ease back into activity. When resuming normal activity, it becomes crucial to wear a brace or athletic taping to decrease the likelihood of re-spraining the ankle.
If an ankle sprain is recurrent, custom prescription orthtotics may be considered to address the biomechanical component that is causing poor alignment of the foot, making it prone to injury.