Many of us have experienced the sickening feeling the moment we make a sudden course correction causing our ankle to go one direction while our bodies go the other. The sounds of popping and the searing pain often spell out the next few days of hobbling around the house, and the cancellation of future plans. Ankle sprains such as these can be both very painful and very common. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 25,000 Americans suffer from an ankle sprain each day and not surprisingly, they account for close to half of all sports injuries. Furthermore, due to Arizona’s favorable climate for year-round activities, it is increasingly important to understand both how to avoid ankle sprains and also how to treat them.
So what exactly is an ankle sprain? Thick fibrous cords called ligaments hold the bones of our body together, and these ligaments can be prone to tearing if they are weakened by repetitive activities and/or quick sudden movements. Thus sports activities become the perfect storm in placing a person at risk for developing an ankle sprain. In most cases the ligaments of the outer ankle are prone to injury when we invert or roll our ankle inward. The severity of an ankle sprain is often determined by the extent of involvement of these ligaments and whether or not they were partially or fully torn.
Rather than dealing with a sprain, the best approach is always prevention. A balanced strength program that includes ankle mobility can go a long ways towards improving athletic performance, but also reducing risk. Additional precautions may include proper ankle taping and stabilization with external braces. In addition to all of this, it is vital to know your limitations. If the activity is something that you do on a regular basis, you have a lower risk of a sprain, however if you are a beginner to an activity, start off slow to allow your body to adjust to the new movements.
If you are suffering from and ankle sprain, or perhaps recurrent ankle sprains, remember the pneumonic RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) as effective home treatment until you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.