Ankle sprains are among the most common of all sports related injuries. The ankle joint is designed to adapt to uneven terrain, but a sudden twisting motion can tear the ligaments that support it. With a sever sprain, the ligaments may be ruptured and the ankle bones can be dislocated. In some cases, the bones may be broken. The most common injury occurs when the ankle rolls outwards so that the sole of the foot faces inwards, which stretches the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle (an inversion sprain). More rarely, the foot is forced outwards, which damages the inner ligaments (an eversion sprain).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
There will be pain, stiffness,m and swelling around your ankle joint and you may not be able to bear weight on it. Bruising that moves down your foot towards your toes may appear in the days following the injury. If there is a fracture, the ankle will be extremely painful to touch and it may look deformed compared to the other leg if a bone has moved out of place.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
Stop your activity, follow the RICE procedure,and seek medical advice. If pain is severe and you cannot bear weight on the leg, suspect a broken bone and don’t apply a compression bandage. Immobilize the ankle and seek urgent medical help. Your doctor will examine the ankle and may arrange for an X-ray if a break is suspected. For a mild to moderate sprain you will be advised to take pain relief medication and continue with the ice treatment until the injury has healed; you may need to use crutches for a couple of weeks. Surgery may be required for a sever sprain. If the ankle is broken, your leg will be put in a splint until the swelling has reduced, then in a cast for up to six weeks. You will have to use crutches as you will not be able to walk on the injured leg. Surgery will be required if the break is complex and/or the bone ends have moved out of place.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO RUNNING?
With rest and treatment, a mild or moderate sprain should heal in a few weeks. With a sever sprain, you will need a supervised period of rehabilitation of up to three months. If you do not undergo proper rehabilitation, you may suffer from chronic pain and permanent instability. If you sprain your ankle repeatedly, you may need surgery to tighten the ligaments around the joint before you can consider running again. If you have surgery, you will need to learn to walk properly after the cast is removed, then depending on the severity of the injury, you may have to wait six months after the injury is healed before you can resume running.
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