Sports Medicine: Ankle Sprain
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain is the most common injury in sports. Ankle sprains are injuries to one or more ligaments in the ankle. A lateral ankle sprain (injury to the outer side of the ankle) is the most common, but athletes may also have a medial ankle sprain (injury to the inner side of the ankle) or a high ankle sprain (injury to the ligaments that hold the two bones of the lower leg together).
What causes an ankle sprain?
Lateral ankle sprains often occur by stepping on another athlete’s foot causing the ankle to roll over the foot, stretching or tearing the lateral ligaments. Medial and high ankle sprains often occur when another athlete falls on the back of the ankle pushing one of the bones of the foot (talus) up damaging the ligaments on the inside and middle of the ankle.
What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?
Symptoms of an ankle sprain depend on the severity and include:
- Inability to bear weight
How is an ankle sprain diagnosed?
A physician will use a thorough history and a physical examination to diagnose an ankle sprain. In some cases, x-rays and/or MRI may be ordered to rule out further damage.
What is the treatment for an ankle sprain?
Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) treatments should be used to treat an ankle sprain in the first few days. Once the inflammation and pain has improved, a rehabilitation program should be started to fully regain strength and range of motion. Once full strength and range of motion have been achieved a gradual return to activity should occur.
What is the long term outlook for an ankle sprain?
After treatment and rehabilitation, a full return to activity is expected. It is common for an athlete to sprain their ankle again after the initial injury, which is why it is important to continue to work on range of motion and to strengthen the ankle once the athlete returns to sport in order to reduce that chance.