The movement of our body is made up of the total movement of various joints. The stability of the joint is maintained by the shape of the joint itself, the ligaments between the bones and the muscles and tendons that cross the joint. A sprain refers to damage to the muscles and ligaments that maintain joint stability due to various causes. Ankle sprain means that the ligaments supporting the ankle are damaged when they are folded or twisted, and the lateral collateral ligament injury, which is mainly caused by bending the foot inward, accounts for about 85% of the total occurrence. Ankle sprains occur as a result of a momentary excessive impact on the tissue due to trauma. In particular, it occurs mainly when the ankle is twisted or sprained during sports activities and is outside the normal range of motion of the ankle joint. It can also occur during everyday activities, such as walking or running on uneven surfaces and tripping down stairs. Such ankle sprains need to be taken care of because they can lead to ankle joint instability and ankle arthritis if left untreated and waiting for natural recovery. Now, let’s learn about the main symptoms and treatment of ankle sprains.
Main symptoms of ankle sprain
The main symptom of an ankle sprain is that as the ligaments are stretched or twisted, various symptoms such as pain, tenderness, and swelling occur. In a degree 1 sprain, the stability of the joint is maintained because the ligament itself does not rupture. However, it can cause micro-damage to the fibers and surrounding tissues that make up the ligament, resulting in pain and swelling. A second-degree sprain is a partial tear of the ligament. When a small part of the ligament is torn, joint instability may not occur. And third-degree sprains are cases where the ligament is completely torn or the part where the ligament is attached to the bone has come off, and joint instability may occur. Ankle sprains vary depending on the damaged ligament, but 80-90% of patients fully recover with appropriate treatment. Even third-degree sprains with complete ligament rupture can be treated without surgery if appropriate conservative treatment is performed. However, it can be difficult for a long time due to chronic joint pain, restriction of normal joint movement, and swelling. And it is known that ankle joint instability can occur at a rate of more than 10% even after conservative treatment, and if severe instability is left unattended for a long time, it can lead to ankle arthritis. Therefore, after an ankle sprain occurs, it is important to receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment through a visit rather than waiting for natural recovery even if symptoms persist.
How to treat and prevent ankle sprains
1. Diagnosis and examination
In order to diagnose an ankle sprain, the injured area is checked and the pain and swelling appearing along the damaged ligament area are checked by pressing the ligament tissue. In addition, X-rays are taken to check for fractures or dislocations, and ultrasound and MRI scans can be performed to more precisely determine the degree of tissue damage and ligament rupture. In particular, MRI is performed to detect osteochondral lesions and peroneal tendon injuries that are difficult to confirm with X-rays.
2. Treatment according to the diagnosis result
Depending on the diagnosis results through several tests, several conservative treatments will be carried out. The most basic conservative treatment is the RICE treatment, which is a treatment made by combining the first letters of the English words such as Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. As an effective treatment to reduce pain and swelling immediately after injury, give the ankle enough rest and apply ice cold compresses 3 to 4 times a day for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Then, apply adequate pressure with a bandage, and keep the ankle higher than the heart for 48 hours after the injury to relieve swelling. In addition, depending on the degree of damage to the ligaments, crutches, plaster fixation, orthosis are used, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes taken to reduce pain and swelling. If the pain in the joint gradually decreases, applying a warm compress to the joint as needed to smooth blood flow around the joint can help a lot in improving symptoms. If symptoms persist despite these conservative treatments and ankle joint instability progresses to a chronic form, surgical treatment may be considered.
3. Enough warm-up
As ankle sprains mainly occur during sports or outdoor activities, it is very important to do sufficient warm-up exercises. You need to loosen the muscles around the ankle and relieve tension through ankle stretching and bare-handed gymnastics. Also, it is recommended not to overdo the exercise in a fatigued situation, especially when walking and running quickly on an uneven and uneven surface, as the possibility of spraining t