Sprained Ankle Specialists

Sprained Ankles are a very common injury in Colorado because of the popularity of activities such as hiking and trail running. If you have an ankle injury, proper diagnosis and treatment is key to recover and prevent future injury.

Sprained Ankle Specialists

Sprained Ankles are a very common injury in Colorado because of the popularity of activities such as hiking and trail running. If you have an ankle injury, proper diagnosis and treatment is key to recover and prevent future injury.

What Is A Sprained Ankle?

The ankle joint is responsible for connecting the foot to the lower leg, through this joint runs three ligaments that prevent the bones of your ankle from shifting out of place. When one of these ligaments is either torn or stretched too far, this results in a “sprained ankle”.

An ankle sprain is the most common ankle injury, and with the popularity of outdoor activities in Colorado such as hiking, trail running, climbing, and winter sports – this injury happens to a lot of outdoor recreators. 

Web MD recommendations, as well as what our doctors at South Pointe Healthcare agree on, is that there are three typical grades of sprains:

  1. The ligaments in the ankle have been stretched past their normal capacity, but they have not been torn. This usually results in pain and stiffness, but the ankle still has stability.
  2. One or more out of the three ligaments are partially torn, resulting in swelling and redness with modern pain. Typically, the ankle joint is not fully stable and the person will not be able to put as much strain or weight on the ankle as usual.
  3. One or more of the ankle ligaments are fully torn. This causes high levels of pain accompanied with significantly reduced range of motion, and severely limited ability to put weight on the ankle. 

Signs And Symptoms

If a sprained ankle is suspected it is important to know the exact symptoms, which will help determine that it is in fact an ankle sprain and not another injury such as a broken bone. One of the characteristic signs of a severe sprain is visible bruising. This is caused by the breaking of blood vessels that eventually hemorrhage into the tissues surrounding the joint. This also causes increased blood flow to the sprained area, as white blood cells rush to the area, which are responsible for the visible inflammation.

In addition, the bruising and inflammation, most people experience pain and swelling. The pain felt is a result of increased sensitivity of nerves in the surrounding area. This often-throbbing pain will become more intense if pressure is placed on the affected area. Reduced range of motion in the ankle joint is another side effect of the pain and inflammation. 

Ankle Sprain Risk Factors

According to Mayo Clinic data on ankles sprains, the most effected groups are women, children, and teenagers. Individuals may also be at a higher risk of a sprain if they:

  • Participate in sports on an indoor court
  • Wear high heels or ill-fitting shoes
  • Have balance problems
  • Have previously stiff or weak ankles due to a previous injury

When playing a sport such as basketball, it is important to wear the proper high-top shoes that provide adequate support for the pivoting involved on the court. 

At South Pointe Healthcare, we treat many ankle sprains that occur while hiking. Hiking is a very popular activity in Colorado, and it is important to wear properly fitting hiking shoes that have enough ankle support for the length hand intensity of the hiking that an individual is participating in.

Fatigue is another major factor in hiking sprains, as people are more tired on the descent, they are not focusing as much on the stability of their foot and leg on each step, which can result in an injured ankle. 

Inversion (Lateral Ankle Sprain)

This type of injury is the most common type, accounting for nearly 70% – 85% of all ankle sprains. This inversion happens when the foot rotates to the inside at a higher degree than it is supposed to, usually a result of a person’s body weight. When this happens, the lateral (outer) ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity.

The usual cultrate is the talofibular ligament, followed by the calcaneofibular ligament and the posterior talofibular ligament. When the talofibular ligament is torn or stretched beyond its capacity, a severe ankle sprain is usually the case.

Eversion (Medial Ankle Sprain)

An eversion is one of the less common types of ankle sprains, which effects the medial (inner) part of the foot. As opposed to an inversion where the foot rolls to the inside, an eversion occurs when the foot rolls to the outside. If this happens, it causes a strain or tear on the deltoid ligament that is present on the inside of the foot. 

High (Syndesmotic Ankle Sprain)

High ankle sprains are a result of a sudden and forceful twisting outward of the foot. This is the most common type of ankle sprains in athletes and causes an injury to the upper ligaments of the ankle which join together the bones of the lower leg, the fibula and tibula. 

They most commonly occur in sports that involve contact or “cutting”, such as:

  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Lacrosse
  • Baseball / Softball
  • Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • Rugby
  • Track
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

Chronic Ankle Sprains

If an individual sprains one of their ankles, the injury may be perpetual if they do not allow proper time for the ligaments effected to completely heal. Often times it is difficult for patients to tell if a sprain is fully healed, because even chronic ankle pain can still be functional due to overlying tendons and muscles that aide in ankle stability and motion. 

There is a common misconception that an ankle sprain will result in recurrent sprains. This is not true though. The sprain will lead to imbalance due to muscle weakness which may result in re-injury. Receiving proper treatment to strengthen the muscles will prevent further ankle sprains.

Diagnosis

When seeing a doctor for ankle injuries, they will first perform an examination of the foot and ankle. Although they will be as careful as possible, the physical examination may cause some pain due to the injuries sustained to the ankles. 

This often involves the doctor gently pressing around the injured ankle to determine which ligaments are injured. Your doctor may also move the patient’s ankle around in different directions to determine the range of motion. If the individual’s ankle has swelling and stiffness, the range of motion may be severely limited. 

Once the doctor determines that there are no other injuries involved such as a broken bone, they will be able to judge the severity of the sprain based on the initial evaluation-  as well as pain, bruising and swelling. 

Treatment Options

Regardless of the severity, almost all sprained ankles can be treated without needing surgery. For example, even if one of the three ligaments is fully torn, it can heal on its own without the need for surgery provided that it is properly immobilized. 

According to Ortho Info, and our own in-house treatment specialists, a typical path of treatment will resemble the following:

  • Phase 1: This includes resting, protecting the injured ankle, and reducing swelling. Avoiding sudden movements and using weight bearing systems such as crutches may be recommended. Avoid using heat as a treatment, because this will increase not reduce inflammation. 
  • Phase 2: Next comes restoring range of motion, as well as increasing strength and flexibility. Our expert chiropractors and physical therapists have helped many patients recover from a sprained ankle. This usually involves a combination of manual therapies to reduce pain / stiffness, and an exercise regimen to restore strength over time. 
  • Phase 3: Once your doctor has helped strengthen and return range of motion, it is important to make a gradual return to physical activities. 

Do not wait. Take control of your health today.