Schedule Appointment

Four Reasons To Take Ankle Sprains Seriously

Foam Slant Board

By: Cierra Washington, ATC

It’s been estimated that roughly 25,000 people in the United States suffer from an ankle sprain every day. When most people hear the words “ankle sprain” they think of damage to the ligaments or stabilizing structure in the ankle joint. Like most injuries, there is a classification based upon the level of damage. Grade I ankle sprains occur when the ligament(s) become “overstretched” but not torn. Grade II and III ankle sprains involve a tear to the ligaments. Grade II ankle sprains refer to a partial tear while Grade III sprains are completely torn. So when you read that statistic again, pause and re-read the first line: 25,000 people. That number includes those who “just rolled” their ankles too.

When ankle sprains occur, several changes occur in the body in addition to that sprain. These include ankle instability, poor intrinsic foot and lower extremity musculature, loss of balance, improper mechanics, weakened hips and potential knee problems. The foot/ankle is seen as the “foundation” of the body and when the foundation is not solid, it initiates many little problems that lead to major issues. For example, during the initial phases of an ankle sprain, localized  inflammation and pain with walking are the two most common signs and symptoms. As the ankle is a primary weight-bearing joint, you may start walking with a limp to avoid putting pressure on the injured foot. Whether the decision is to change the way they apply pressure to their foot or to completely stop weight bearing, both options will lead to anatomical and muscular changes.

Treatment of all ankle sprains begins with the R.I.C.E method to minimize pain and decrease swelling.

                        R: Rest

                        I: Ice

                        C: Compress

                        E: Elevate

With Grade II and III sprains, immobilization is sometimes needed in order to allow for proper healing and protection from re-injury. With both of these treatment styles, the injured person will significantly decreased the amount they use their injured ankle, which in turn impacts the muscle strength and tone. Another side effect that occurs is increased tightness in the muscles and surrounding structures because the mobility of the ankle in decreased. Think about trying to walk when you do not have the proper movement in your ankle or foot. Not only are you training your foot incorrectly, but you are also causing excessive muscular and postural imbalances.

Possible issues caused by chronic ankle instability:

  1. Chronic Instability or the “feeling of giving way”
  2. Poor Balance
  3. Possible ankle fractures
  4. Knee/Hip problems

As you can see, when you feet and ankles, the “foundation,” is not stable and you are experiencing ankle instability, there is a significant impact to other structures up the chain. So it’s never just an ankle sprain and if you leave it untreated it may lead to other pains besides your ankle. If you are dealing with any foot or ankle issues, call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300 and CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you. 

Tags: , , , , ,