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Ankle sprains: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About ankle sprains

A sprain is an injury or tear to ligaments (fibrous tissues that connect one bone to another across the joints) that is caused by excessive stretching. Sprains may occur in any joint but are most common in the ankle.

Ankle sprains: Incidence, age and sex

Soft-tissue injuries around the ankle joint are common, affecting about 1 in 300 people.

Signs & symptoms of ankle sprains: Diagnosis

The main features are pain, swelling, redness and warmth of the affected joint following the trauma. Ankle sprain diagnosis can be difficult in the acutely painful, post-traumatic ankle joint. Routine anterioposterior and lateral radiographs should be taken when indicated, to exclude a bony injury. MRI imaging of the ankle joint has been shown to 90% accurate in diagnosing lateral ligament injuries.

Causes & prevention of ankle sprains

Ligaments are injured when a greater than normal stretching force is applied to them. This happens most commonly when the foot is turned inward or inverted forces leading to injury of the lateral complex. Eversion/abduction force cause trauma to the medial ligament complex.

Prevention strategies include keeping the ankles strong and flexible through strengthening exercises, wearing stable shoes that give your ankle proper support shoes for activities, avoiding high heels and platform and having a weak ankle-tape or wearing an ankle brace while playing to offer extra support .Making sure that the walking/playing surface is clear of any holes or obstacles also may help in prevention.

Ankle sprains: Complications

About 25% of people who sprain their ankle have long-term joint pain and weakness. The joint will become unstable if it does not heal correctly and will be easily reinjured.

Ankle sprains: Treatment

Immediate treatment should involve the PRICE routine-Pain reducing medicines, Rest, Ice packs, Compression (strapping with an elastic bandage) and Elevation which will assist in the recovery. The ankle should then be reassessed after 4-7 days. Treatment aims to provide a stable ankle with good alignment and function. Incomplete ligament rupture requires protection with an ankle brace or strapping, with early mobilization and functional range of motion exercises. It is essential for patients to undergo neuromuscular retraining exercises directed by a physiotherapist to help provide a stable ankle with a good range of movement. The treatment of complete rupture is controversial. Some advocate early surgical repair, however, secondary repair of ruptured ligaments, even years later, has produced comparable results.