Ankle Sprains and Treatment

Ankle Sprains & Treatment
Posted on 04/20/2021
Ankle Sprains and Treatment

Chelsey Knutsen, ATC
Highlands Ranch High School

Ankle sprains are common injuries often associated with athletes. However, their prevalence is also high for non-athletes. It is estimated that there are 30,000 ankle sprains per day in the U.S. alone (Drakos, 2018). There are different types of ankle sprains, and each requires a unique form of treatment depending on the extent of pain or tissue damage.

Types of Ankle Sprains
Inversion and eversion are common types of ankle sprains. Inversion ankle sprains lead to lateral ligament injury due to the outward rolling of the ankle and inward turning of the foot. An eversion ankle sprain affects the medial ligament because of the rolling inward of the ankle and the outward movement of the foot (Bux, 2018). Figure 1 below illustrates an inversion and an eversion sprain.

Figure 1 Ankle sprains (Bux, 2018)

Ankle Sprains Figure 1

Grades of Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains are classified using two basic classifications: anatomic (level of tissue damage) and functional (level of injury and its effect on a patient’s ability to walk). Using both classifications, there are three grades of ankle sprains (Bux, 2018; Drakos, 2018; Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). A grade I sprain has mild or no disability. A grade II sprain has a partial tear. A grade III sprain has a full tear or rupture.

Figure 2 Lateral ankle sprain (Bux, 2018)

Ankle Sprain Figure 2

Treatment of Ankle Sprains

After an injury, the reduction of pain and swelling is the priority. As described by Bux (2018), the P.R.I.C.E (protection, rest, and ice) method is an effective treatment option. The first goal is to protect the ankle from additional injury. The second step is to avoid physical activities that may exacerbate the pain and swelling. Thirdly, the application of ice is important to help suppress swelling. Compression wraps offer a better approach to reducing swelling. In the initial phases, doctors can prescribe medications to reduce pain and swelling (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). Early motion exercises are fundamental in the recovery process. Patients can subscribe to physical therapy sessions to facilitate recovery (Drakos, 2018). The complexity of the treatment process varies depending on the level of damage. Most ankle sprains heal if protective bracing and physical therapy are used. However, in some cases, surgery is necessary, especially during severe injuries or failure of other recovery methods.

Future of Ankle Instability and Strengthening the Ankle

With the enhancement in technology, the management of ankle injuries is expected to improve. Imaging tools are becoming helpful in identifying the severity of injuries and assessing any secondary damage to tissues. The prioritization of functional treatment (brace, bandage, and tape) over immobilization is fundamental in enhancing recovery. At the same time, using technological tools, personalized care can be provided to improve ankle instability. Physical therapy provides a better approach to strengthening the ankle (Santos-Longhurst, 2019). The use of such exercises as flex and stretch, heel walks, resistance push, and standing calf raises enhance the stability of the ankles.

  1. Bux, S. (2018). Different types of ankle sprains, symptoms & treatment options. Body Heal.

  2. Drakos, M. C. (2018). Ankle sprain types and treatments. Hospital for Special Surgery.

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Recovering from an ankle sprain. Harvard Health.

  4. Santos-Longhurst, A. (2019). How to strengthen weak ankles. Healthline.
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