Are you plagued with ankle sprains and strains?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
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What is an ankle sprain?

The ankle is a hinge type joint that allows you to point and flex your foot.

An ankle sprain is an injury to the thick tissue that connects between two bones called Ligaments. The role of ligaments is to help keep your joints stable.

Due to ligaments being thick and tough they act like an elastic band. They do have some give or stretch, but can over-stretch / tear under too much force.When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments are quickly stretched past their elastic point and cannot recoil back to their stable position. This is when they become injured.

Stretching the outer (lateral) side of your ankle is the most common ankle injury.The clinical name for this is an “Inversion sprain”. Other tissues such as blood vessels, tendons, and muscle fibres can be injured with an ankle sprain (this also causes further swelling and bruising). On rare occasions, bone fractures can occur.

Ankle sprains commonly occur from walking or running on uneven ground, wearing incorrect footwear, or taking part in high-contact sports, (Hockey, Rugby and Soccer) and sports that include a lot of jumping! (Basketball and Netball).

Many people who sprain their ankle will report a feeling of:

  • rolling their ankle
  • twisting or pivoting their leg in an awkward way
  • loosing balance
  • landing poorly after jumping

How do you know if you’ve sprained you ankle?

Most people know straight away if they’ve sprained their ankle! But signs and symptoms also include:

  • Pain and tenderness with weight bearing and moving the injured ankle
  • Swelling
  • Bruising and/or Redness
  • Stiffness or temporary lack of movement due to the swelling.

It can take approximately 6-8 weeks for an ankle sprain to resolve.

What can I do to help myself recover at home?

  • R.I.C.E = Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. 10-15 minutes multiple times a day will help, especially in the first 24-48 hours after injury.
  • Take it easy for the first 3-4 days and try not to walk or stand for long periods of time. If it is still really bad after this time, it might be a good idea to see an Osteopath or physical therapist – you might need a scan to see if you’ve torn some of the ankle ligaments.
  • If the pain is really bad, you could consult your doctor or pharmacist about some medication / pain relief options.

What can your Osteopath can help with?

You might not know this, but osteopaths treat ankle sprains and strains all the time! The foot is really important to keeping the rest of your body working well – if you are walking with a limp due to an ankle injury, the rest of your body could go wonky and start causing you all kinds of funny aches (lower back pain, for example).

Your osteopath can assess the range of motion of your ankle by doing a thorough physical examination. They will most likely assess neighbouring areas such as your foot, calf muscles, shin, and knees. It is important that these areas are taken into consideration as they will be compensating and working overtime to help you walk and move (or limp) with an injured ankle. The foot and ankle is just a big bag of joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons – the same as other areas of the body. We will work to make sure the foot and rest of your ankle is working well, to make sure you recover as best you can from the injury. We might also do some sports strapping (or show you how to do it before your next game) or do some Kinesiotaping to help speed up recovery.

*Depending on the severity of your ankle sprain, your Osteopath can refer you to your GP for X-rays or other medical imaging if they feel it is needed.

We will also most likely give you at home exercises to help improve strength and movement of your ankle (for example – balancing exercises or strength exercises with an elastic thera-band).

How to prevent getting an ankle sprain in the first place...

  • Before starting sport or exercise, it is important you ease the body into activity with a warm up of some kind. It is also really important that you wear the correct footwear for whatever sport you are about to play, and that the shoes fit well, and have some foot arch support. They should be laced up or fastened firmly, but not too tightly.
  • If you have sprained your ankle before, you may need to strap or brace the ankle for certain activities/sports to prevent re-aggravating the injury. Ask us how, we're happy to help you and give advice – 09 427 9306.

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