The strain, the types of surfaces on which a game is played, as well as the footwear in sports such as football, handball, basketball, etc., make ankle injuries practically a daily occurrence.
The most common injury is usually a sprain. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments that support the ankle. The injury usually occurs when the ankle is twisted and the foot turns inward (so-called foot inversion). It is accompanied by slight swelling and pain when walking and instability of the ankle joint, but it does not come with permanent consequences.
However, there is a high risk of repeated injury, especially among athletes. About one third of people experience a second ankle injury within 3 years, and among athletes this figure is as high as 73% of all cases. Only multiple minor sprains in combination with increased load often lead to major changes in the joint itself. There is gradual degeneration and/or damage to the articular cartilage, which gradually leads to arthrosis of the joint.
Most ankle injuries involve the lateral ligaments, with the anterior talofibular ligament being the most commonly affected.
Injuries to the ankle ligaments are evaluated in three degrees, depending on the severity of the injury:
- 1st degree (mild) – ligament strain without rupture, with minimal or no loss of function
- 2nd degree (moderate) – partial rupture; there is pain at rest and mild to moderate instability of the ankle
- 3rd degree (severe) – complete rupture of the ligament with pronounced swelling, hematoma, pain and sensitivity; loss of ankle function, instability, reduced movements.
Treatment of ankle sprains depends on the severity of the injury. The goal is always to reduce pain and swelling, promote ligament healing, and restore ankle function. Immobilization may also be necessary, and at Aksis Special Hospital we practice functional immobilization with a brace. It is very important to carry out proper treatment and rehabilitation in order to prevent chronic ankle instability and re-sprain.
Before a diagnosis by an orthopedist, after an ankle sprain you can intervene on your own, keeping in mind the RICE method.
- Rest: cessation of the activity that caused the injury to allow the injured area to rest.
- Ice: reduce pain and swelling by cooling – several times a day for 10-15 minutes, without applying ice directly to the skin.
- Compression: wrap the ankle and foot with an elastic bandage in order to prevent swelling (edema).
- Elevation: keeping the injured area in an elevated position, namely above heart level, ideally overnight, again to prevent edema.