Dealing with an Ankle Sprain: A Common Sport Injury

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Ankle Sprain

Dealing with an Ankle Sprain

Anatomy of an Ankle Sprain Injury

A sprain occurs when the tough bands known as ligaments, which join the bones in a joint, are stretched beyond their limits. The overstretching leads to deformation or tearing of the ligament, causing a sprain. Ankle sprains are common in players participating in different sports, including soccer, basketball, hockey, gymnastics, and other sports that involve running, jumping, and quick turnings. Such activities can lead to accidental twisting of the ankle when the foot turns inwards leading to overstretching of the outer ligaments that are relatively weak.

Once the tissues are overstretched to a point of no return, then a sprain is likely to occur. If necessary, the YouTube link inserted below shares more information on the anatomy of an ankle sprain:

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First Aid for an Ankle Sprain

An ankle is one of the body parts that are prone to injuries; however, an ankle sprain occurs unexpectedly in most athletes. Therefore, it is important to sensitize the public, especially those involved in physical activities, to the methods of providing first aid immediately after an ankle injury occurs. The PRICE method is a globally recommended and widely practiced form of first aid for victims of an ankle sprain. It works effectively not only for an ankle sprain but also for many other injuries involving muscle strain such as hamstring strain (Margot, 2016). This method involves five major steps that should be undertaken immediately after an injury occurs. The letter P represents protecting the injury, especially if it is severe. The injured ankle should be covered with a splint, pad, or crutch to help prevent the ankle from increased swelling. R stands for restricting, namely immediately stopping any activity in order to prevent further injuries and reduce pain in the patient. The letter I represent ice application, which should be done instantly on sports injuries. According to Margot (2016), ice is effective in relieving pain in all forms of sprain injuries and acts as a perfect anti-inflammatory with minimal side effects.

In order to ease the pain of an ankle sprain quickly, ice should be applied for twenty minutes every one to two hours, repeating the same process for the next forty-eight hours (Margot, 2016). The letter C stands for compressing the injured sport by use of an elastic bandage as this helps prevent increased swellings. E represents elevation, implying that the injured area should be placed on a raised object to help improve blood circulation and reduce swellings. Although resting is an important element, an injured person should not stay still for more than one day as this may impede functional recovery (Margot, 2016). As a result, it is advisable to keep making the movement of the ankle to allow proper blood circulation to prevent increased swelling and facilitate recovery.

To find more information on the ways to conduct PRICE first aid, follow the provided YouTube link:

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Treating an Ankle Sprain

There are various methods that can be used for treating an ankle sprain (Calatayud et al., 2014). Most sport injuries usually are moderate and thus are unlikely to become fatal. Moreover, there are minimal cases of totally displaced muscles and tissues or even broken bones. Predominantly, when an injury occurs, it causes superficial damages to the tissues, which require simple therapies in form of first aid to repair them. The minor injuries, therefore, are easily treated at home by administering anti-inflammatory drugs as well as over-the-counter pain relievers that help reduce pain to a tolerable level. Creams, which are also easily found at pharmacies, can be applied slowly and carefully while massaging the injured ankle. Application of creams and massaging help in relaxing the ligaments and bringing them back to their normal length, preventing them from overstretching. However, whenever the injury is severe, it is important to seek a doctor’s advice. In particular, a study by Mathew (2008) emphasizes that ‘a high ankle sprain is slower to heal and should probably be seen by a doctor to make sure the bones in the lower leg did not separate’ (p. 12).

Furthermore, severe injuries are likely to occur when the entire ligament is completely torn. In such a case, the injured person needs a quick surgery to correct the deformation, but before any surgery, the medical experts should conduct thorough checkups and tests through x-rays to identify the exact point of dislocation. An X-ray helps reduce chances of complications during surgery, such as operating on wrong tissues or interfering in non-damaged ones. It is also important to note that a severe sprain is characterized by increased tenderness above the ankles, and once such signs are observed, a person should seek medical attention. Additional information on treating an ankle sprain or twisted ankle can be found via the following YouTube link:

An ankle sprain, just like any other physical injury, may affect a person emotionally, often leading to depression, anxiety, poor eating habits, and drug abuse. It is, therefore, important that coaches or trainers, team physicians, and parents always keep a close observation of an injured person in order to single out the presence of any negative emotional response and administer counseling. For instance, the negative emotional responses such as depression may trigger other ones, such as mood swings or loss of appetite, that may hinder the process of recovery (Polzer et al., 2012). The thoughts that a person may not be able to participate in a certain activity again, most likely the favorite one, or may take longer time to recuperate are the major sources of depression. Thus, people involved in the welfare of an injured person are expected to give full support by encouraging him/her to stay active and be optimistic, as these behaviors are the major triggers for quick recovery (Margot 2016).

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Recommendations on Return to Activities

Before allowing returning to sports, it is necessary for a physician to conduct a thorough physical and psychological examination on the patient to determine whether injury is totally healed and a person is out of danger. In an event that an injury occurs, it is normal for a person to experience psychological distress leading to stress, a bad element that hinders quick recovery. Consequently, rehabilitation is necessary to help boost confidence, reduce fear and anxiety. If a person returns to sports filled with fear and apprehension, he/she is likely to get more injuries or perform poorly. Therefore, a person should undergo tests to determine emotional stability before returning to play. However, testing the physical fitness of an injured person is another crucial element that the coach, physician, or parents can never ignore. Polzer et al. (2012) asserts that it is difficult to tell on the basis of mere observations whether an injured person has totally recovered. There are instances when parents and coaches often put pressure on the physicians to declare that patients have fully recovered and should keep on sporting. However, what they fail to understand is the fact that in case a person gets to the field in a half-recovery condition, there are higher chances of recurrence of injuries and suffering new injuries that are likely to prolong the healing process, leading to time and financial losses. As a result, the physician is expected to use a fairly objective criterion such as imaging studies to examine severe injuries.

Even though there are no specific criteria for clinical tests on soft tissue injuries, there are physical tests that are globally acceptable.

In particular, to identify an ankle sprain injury, physicians use four physical evaluation tests, which include:

  • A. Ankle joint dorsiflexion. This test requires the use of a goniometer. A patient is asked to extend his or her knee as motion is measured, and symmetry is checked.
  • B. Functional test. It provides the patient runs down the stairs without holding onto the handrails. If a person feels pain around the point of injury, he/she will often stretch her hands to find support.
  • C. Balance test. It requires a person to balance on a squire beam, raising the uninjured leg and arms across the chest. As a result, these actions help find out how long it takes to lose balance. Then, the same process is repeated using the injured leg. Having both measurements, a physician can compare the time taken. If the duration is the same, then this is a clear indication of total recovery.
  • D. Strength test. During this test, a person raises his/her toes and heels, while a physician monitors the time taken while standing in that position.

Once a person completes all tests, it is important to conduct field assessment tests. In particular, the patient runs and sprints to identify any cases of limping. The patient can also perform kicking, jumping, and diving drills to detect any form of discomfort. Finally, when a person goes through all the tests successfully, then he or she is ready to return to his/her field of sports.

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