Ankle Sprains A to Z
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 07:49 AM

Ankle sprains are one of the most common ankle injuries. In fact, “in the United States alone, 23,000 people sprain their ankles each day."

Athletes, in particular, are susceptible to ankle sprains. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 43 different sports and found that the ankle sprain was the most frequent injury in 33 of those sports. Additionally, Tom Hyde, DC, DACBSP, CCSP, notes that the anterior talofibular ligament (in the ankle) is the most commonly torn ligament in the body.

Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched or torn. Eighty-five percent of all ankle sprains involve ligaments of the lateral ankle, according to John Stites, DC, DACBR, FACO, director of community clinics at Palmer College of Chiropractic.  Dr. Stites explains that sprains can range from mild to severe depending on the damage to the ligaments and how many ligaments are involved.

A mild, or Grade 1, sprain occurs when the ligaments are stretched and some of the ligaments’ fibers are damaged. The ankle will be tender and swollen, but it can typically bear weight causing only mild pain.

A moderate, or Grade 2, sprain involves some ligamentous tearing and will cause notable swelling and bruising.

A severe, or Grade 3, sprain, consists of a complete ligament tear and generally requires a surgical consult. In this case, the ankle will also show signs of instability, bruising and will not be able to bear any weight.

“Ligamentous injuries, such as sprains, generally take about four to six weeks to heal,” says Dr. Stites. “However, depending on the severity of the sprain and the rehabilitation program used, the patient is not necessarily disabled for the entire healing process.” He recommends the PRICE method in the early days of healing—protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate—as a foundation of home care. “There is evidence that early intervention with mobilization and manipulation of the ankle can reduce healing time,” he continues. Of course, any manual intervention has to be done within patient tolerance.

This article provides resources for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of ankle sprains.