In the United States of America, more than 23,000 cases of ankle sprains are reported each year. Twisting or rolling an ankle is a very common event experienced by 80% to 90% of people at some point in their life. Most ankle injuries are trivial and resolve spontaneously. In some cases, however, a more serious injury to ankle ligaments and tendons may lead to more serious implications.
What is an Ankle Sprain?
The ankle is formed by two leg bones (i.e. the tibia and the fibula) and one tarsal bone (i.e. the talus). All three bones are connected and stabilized with the help of ligaments that provide support and strength to the ankle joint. Ankle Sprain is a condition in which the soft tissue and supporting tissue of the ankle are badly damaged or torn; particularly the ligaments. Ankle sprains are usually the result of injury to the ankle that does not resolve spontaneously and greatly limits mobility.
With a mild to moderate ankle sprain, there is still some degree of mobility with moderate pain and stiffness because the ankle joint is stable. In the case of a severe ankle sprain, however, any type of movement is very difficult due to the instability of the ankle joint as well as intense and excruciating pain.
Signs and Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain:
Pain is common after any injury but normally all minor ankle injuries resolve themselves within a period of two to three days. If you develop the following symptoms, however, you may have ankle sprain:
- Swelling of the ankle
- Moderate to severe ankle pain that interferes with mobility
- Bruising of the ankle
- Antalgic Gait or Difficulty Walking
- Tenderness at the site of the injured ligament[MSOffice1]
Generally, the degree of swelling and pain at the site of ligament injury is indicative of the severity of tissue damage.
How does an Ankle Sprain develop?
The primary pathology is the twisting of the ankle which, in turn, may injure or damage the integrity of ankle ligaments, tendons and supporting tissues. The most common clinical scenario is the shifting of an ankle with the foot fixed to the ground; falling on a slippery or unstable surface causing the ankle to roll. Ankle sprains are also seen frequently when undue pressure is applied to the angle of the ankle when the foot is not properly resting on the ground. Excessive stretching of the ankle leads to tearing of ligaments and damage to the micro-fibers of tendons that eventually leads to a clinical manifestation of ankle sprain.
As a result of tissue injury, inflammatory blood cells invade the site of injury and release mediators that cause pain, swelling, redness, bruising and tenderness.
The risk of an ankle sprain is greatly increased when:
- Playing body contact sports such as football or soccer
- Running on uneven ground
- Any activity in which someone tipped over or step-over your feet while you are walking or running.
Most commonly injured ankle ligament is anterior talo-fibular ligament. It is a serious condition as chronic inflammatory changes in untreated ankle sprains not only affect the quality of life but also give rise to severe joint issues like pain, and weakness.
At Ace Physio our Registered Physiotherapists are excellent at helping you regain your mobility, decrease inflammation, improve strength, and prevent re-injury of the ankle.