The Anatomy of an Ankle Sprain

2021-02-07T22:19:29-10:00

You are running down the court, or perhaps hiking or just walking on an uneven sidewalk and then you step awkwardly and teak your ankle. 

This can be a minor sprain to one that keeps you from playing for several weeks. 

So what just happened? 

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Most ankle injuries happen when the foot is forced inward causing pain on the outside of the ankle. Ankle injuries are determined by the type of tissue that is damaged, bone, tissue or ligament. The ankle is where 2 bones meet up, the tibia and fibula. Those bones are held together by ligament which are strong bands of tissue that hold the bones together and allow the ankle to move properly. Tendons attach the muscle to the bones to help keep all the bones of the ankle stable. 

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Ankle sprains are typically on the lateral, or outside of your ankle.  A sprain is when a ligament is stretched beyond their limit and it starts to cause pain. They commonly occur when your foot is in a plantar flexed (toes pointed) and supinated (bottom of your foot turning upward) position. This causes the ligaments on the outside of your foot to be pulled causing a sprain. The ligaments commonly affected when you have a lateral ankle sprain are the Anterior Talofibular Ligament, Calcaneofibular Ligament, and sometimes the Posterior Talofibular Ligament. 

If the ligaments are under significant force this may also cause a strain.  A strain is when the muscles and/or tendons are damaged because the ligaments are stretched too far.

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What to look for:

  • Overall pain and swelling  in the lateral, or outside of your ankle
  • Tenderness and bruising at the lateral ankle, note teh bruising if it is a serious sprain may also appear towards the bottom of the foot. 
  • Difficulty standing on your foot- If you are unable to bear weight at all you should follow up with your physician
  • Reduced range of motion, with feeling of ankle stiffness. 

Self Care

When caring for your ankle at home think of these 4 steps. RICE

  1. Rest -Restrain yourself from doing any activities that may make your ankle swell, or hurt in any way. If you do want to go back to physical activities check with your physical therapist or doctor.
  2. Ice -Wrap your foot in an ice pack or dip your foot in a bucket of ice. Make sure to do it every 2-3 hours for about 10 minutes at a time to minimize swelling.
  3. Compression -To help with the swelling in your ankle you can wrap your ankle with an ace bandage. Make sure to not hinder the circulation by wrapping it too tight.
  4. Elevation -To help with the swelling you can also elevate your ankle this is very helpful at night to reduce any extra fluid in the ankle.
2014 04 10 07.33.47 Copy Treatment of ankle sprain physical therapy
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