Each and every time you sprain your ankle you are doing some form of damage. Whether that be over-stretching the ligaments around the ankle, damaging the message pathway to the brain, bruising the ankle joint or even fracturing a bone! Following an initial ankle sprain it is important to be checked over by a health professional, managed correctly in the acute phase but MOST importantly rehabilitated appropriately so that it doesn’t happen again… and again… and again.
Most ankle sprains are inversion sprains (rolling the ankle outwards), however you can suffer an eversion sprain (rolling the ankle inwards). Ankle sprains are common in change of direction sports such as soccer, basketball and hockey. Ankle sprains in Townsville are common due to our rocky, hard grounds - especially when trail running.
Initially ankle sprains involve some awful pain, often swell up like a balloon and you may have to hobble around for a few days or weeks. Most people end up going back to work and then sport too soon. Many of the patients I see in my Townsville Podiatry clinic do not seek treatment after an ankle sprain ….because…. Ohh… It’s just another ankle sprain! Instead we get to see the chronic, stiff, yucky ankles many years down the track!
The ongoing pit-falls of NOT seeking treatment!
A single ankle sprain can lead to long-term clinical problems, particularly ankle instability, persistent pain and ankle stiffness and swelling. These side effects are more likely to occur when the initial ankle sprain is not treated promptly and appropriately.
During an ankle sprain the ligaments are stretched well beyond their normal length. Think of an Allen’s snake lolly, once you stretch the snake it will not return to its original length, same goes with ligaments. This creates an unstable and weak ankle, especially in the direction of the ankle sprain. To add fuel to the fire, the message pathway from your ankle to your brain gets damaged. This is the same message pathway that tells you that you are about to sprain your ankle – hence the re-occurrence of multiple ankle sprains.
Persistent pain is the most common long-term side effect of an ankle sprain. One third of people report pain lasting a year or longer following an ankle sprain. This can be due to soft tissue injury of the supporting ligaments and tendons. An ankle sprain can also precipitate the degeneration of the ankle joint, leading to osteo-arthritis.
The third clinical problem seen long after an initial ankle sprain is chronic stiffness. Swelling can lead to stiffness as it affects the mobility in the ankle joint.
THE DOMINO EFFECT OF CHRONIC ANKLE INSTABILITY, PAIN AND STIFFNESS IS THAT NORMAL WALKING BECOMES COMPROMISED. IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE UNEVEN GROUND, CAMBERS, INCLINES/DECLINES AND STEPS. THE MUSCLES AND JOINTS HIGHER UP IN THE LEG AND PELVIS OFTEN HAVE TO OVER-COMPENSATE, OR MAY LOSE EFFICIENCY AND STRENGTH. THIS CAN LEAD TO A MYRIAD OF OTHER PROBLEMS SUCH AS LOW BACK PAIN, KNEE PAIN, HIP BURSITIS ETC.
Ankle sprains that are treated early and correctly are less likely to cause long-term side effects. If you sprain your ankle — even if you think the injury is minor – come and visit one of our Biomechanical Podiatrists at Foundation Podiatry Townsville!