An ankle sprain involves injury to the elastic bands of connective tissue (ligaments) that connect the one or more bones of the leg to the foot. This injury typically occurs when you accidentally twist or awkwardly turn your ankle. It can tear or stretch the ligaments that hold your ankle joints and bones together.
Symptoms of a sprained ankle may vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. They may include:
- Pain in the ankle
- Tenderness upon touching or applying pressure to the ankle
- Bruising or swelling
- Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury
- Instability in the ankle
- Restricted range of motion
An ankle sprain develops when the ankle ligaments are stretched or torn. Lateral ankle sprain or an inversion injury is the most common type of ankle sprain injury. It involves the inversion of the foot that damages the ligaments of the lateral ankle. Less common include sprains that injure the ligaments of the inner ankle and sprains that affect the ligaments that join the leg bones (the fibula and the tibia) just above the ankle. Common causes of a sprained ankle include:
- Walking on an uneven surface
- A fall or trauma that causes your ankle to twist
- Landing awkwardly on your foot following a jump
- Another person lending or stepping on your foot during a sports activity
During a physical exam, your physician will examine your lower leg, ankle, and foot. If the injury is severe, your physician or physiotherapist may recommend following imaging scans to evaluate in more detail the extent of the damage. These include;
- X-ray of the ankle joint – It helps rule out bone fractures.
- CT scan – Compared to Xrays, CT scans reveal more details about the bones involved. They can help modify the treatment plan.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – This investigation uses radio waves to produce a detailed cross-sectional of soft internal structures of the ankle. It can show the extent and intensity of the damage.
- Ultrasound – An ultrasound may help your doctor judge the condition of affected tendon or ligament when the foot is in different positions.
There are various treatment options available for ankle sprain; ranging from over the counter pain killers to exercises to home remedies. Some of the common remedies include;
Using a splint or wearing a boot can prevent the ankle from moving in awkward directions. This improves stability at the ankle joint and reduces the risk of injury.
Depending on the severity of the condition, your physician may recommend an ankle support brace, elastic bandage, or a sports tape to stabilize the ankle. In severe cases, a cast may be necessary to prevent mobilization of the ankle while the ligament heals.
Exercises to maintain strength and flexibility can be started once you can walk without pain, and the inflammation has resolved. Check with your physician and physiotherapists first.
Physical therapy can help injured joints in many ways. It includes home exercises and stretches, followed by a regular evaluation. Physical therapy heals injured ligaments, as well as connected soft tissues that may also have sustained an injury. It will help the affected person strengthen the muscles and regain motion in the ankle.
Chiropractic care for ankles can help decrease pain without prescription medications, surgical intervention, and the associated side effects. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help increase the stability of the ankle and strengthen the surrounding muscles while increasing mobility and flexibility.