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Ankle Sprain: Common And Chronic

Ankle Sprain: Common And Chronic
Ankle Sprain Common And Chronic

Ankle Sprains: She’ll Be Right. Will She…?

Sadly statistics indicate that a high percentage people who sprain their ankle for the first time will still have issues with the same ankle two years later. This highlights the importance of correct management of all ankle sprains the first time round to try and avoid recurrence and or persistent issues. Proper assessment and management early on regardless of the level of perceived severity of the injury at the time could help prevent these ongoing complaints.
Unlike in the knee where a pop or crack at the time of rotational injury more often than not can indicate an ACL rupture there isn’t exactly the same correlation between audible noise and severity with an ankle sprain. Just because you heard a crack doesn’t necessarily mean you have had a ligament rupture. There is however a strong correlation between the inability to weight bear and severity of ligament injury such as rupture.

It’s The “Minor” Sprains That Frequently Do Worse

What I commonly see is that it is often the people having episodes of “minor” sprains and writing them off as insignificant are frequently the ones who experience on going symptoms.
People having severe sprains will frequently seek help to correctly diagnosis and manage their injury. Considering the injury more serious they adhere to their rehabilitation plan closer and often do well as a result. Those not seeking assessment and management advice or those who perceive their injury as insignificant because pain and function returns quickly thus subsequently forgoing their management program completely or at best shortly after starting are often the ones left ruing their decision to do so.
The point is regardless of your belief around the significance of any ankle injury, it is always wise to have it assessed sooner rather than later.

RICE: An Oldie But A Goodie With An Ankle Sprain

Physiotherapists are well placed to advise on the immediate management of ankle injuries, the sooner you see your physiotherapist the better. As with the majority of acute limb injuries, early ankle ligament injury management abides by the old acronym RICE and this should be initiated ASAP from the time of injury. Physiotherapist typically employ a further couple of letters to the acronym becoming PRICER standing for

  • Protection
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Referral

Creating the right environment for your bodies biology to start the healing process is crucial to obtaining the best outcome from your injury and this is where the PRICER acronym comes into play. P for Protection of further injury by properly supporting the injury R for referral on-wards for imaging or orthopaedic assessment will ultimately further enhance the correct Protection technique and duration of the injury. My preference is people employ RICE immediately after ankle ligament injury whenever possible and the persists all the way through till approximately the 7-10 day mark but obviously depends heavily on individual circumstances.

Don’t Stop Your Homework Just Because You Are “Better”

Supervised rehabilitation exercise programs with ankle sprains reduces re injury rate by 50%, the catch is the rehabilitation program should be at least 6-10 weeks long. Obviously a lot of people return to sport after suffering a mild to moderate ankle sprains before this 6-10 weeks post injury often returning to play with-in a few weeks and typically once people return to play they also stop doing their rehab exercises. This suggests if you wish to reduce likelihood of repeat ankle sprain episodes and on going problems you are best to continue your program that few weeks longer!

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information on Ankle Sprain is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding ankle sprain management should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.