Ankle sprains are a very common occurrence for active people. the ankle joint is made up of the tibia (shin bone) and the fibula (small one on the outside), the talus (which allows the foot to move up or down) and the calcaneus (heel bone which allows the foot to rock in and out). the joint is supported by ligaments, three on the outside (from the fibula to talus and calcaneus), one large one on the inside (from tibia to talus and calcaneus) and one on the front and back (from tibia and fibula).
The ankle does not get its support from the bony structure. The ligaments help to support the ankle until they are injured. Ligaments do not have an elastic component, therefore if injured they do not return to their original length. This is why once you turn your ankle, you keep turning it. In addition, there are muscles around the joint that provide the most stability once an injury has occurred.
The ankle is a highly mobile joint which adjusts for contact as your foot hits or slides along the ground. With an injury, most of the time, the ankle rolls outward and your foot rolls under. This is known as an "Inversion Injury." You may hear a pop accompanied by immediate pain and swelling. The "Pop" you may hear could be one of there previously mentioned ligaments that are on the outside of your ankle. There also is a strong ligament on the inside of your ankle but this is rarely injured. Strains are classified as first, second, or third degree depending on the severity and instability. Grade one involves minimal tearing of ligaments along with minimal swelling and no loss of stability. Grade two is characterized by point tenderness, color change, swelling, and moderated instability. Finally, Grade Three exhibits gross instability, complete tearing of ligaments, swelling and severe pain, which sometimes requires surgery. Most often the anterior talofibular ligament is affected, if the sprain is severe enough the calcaneofibular ligament is also affected.
After your sprain, during the first twenty four to forty eight hours you should stay off your foot, elevate the ankle and apply ice to the injured area for ten to twenty minutes every hour. After two days you can move the ankle as it dangles off the side of the bed. When doing so, try to spell the alphabet with your ankle, so all motions are covered. You should consult your Orthopedist to determine how severe your sprain is before any exercise program is initiated. At this point, a Physical Therapist can then treat your ankle with modalities such as the whirlpool and ultrasound, and prescribe an exercise program that is appropriate for your individual injury.
If you have any questions, you may Contact Us at Fitness In Therapy.