Regardless of a person’s age and physical activity level, ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries that keep people from continued participation in activities. In fact, studies show that 16–21 percent of all sports-related injuries are sprained ankles. “We take ankle sprains seriously because they need proper care to become strong and fully functional again,” says Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic. “Professional chiropractic care can be the best option because we not only want the ankle to be pain free, we want it to function properly to avoid repeated injuries.”
Numerous ligaments in the ankle help keep the bones properly positioned and the joint stabilized. Joint stability is important in any activity involving standing, walking, and running. Sprains occur when the ligaments supporting the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. With a complete tear of the ligaments, the ankle becomes unstable over time, which can cause further damage to the surrounding bones and cartilage.
An ankle sprain can occur unexpectedly at any time during activities ranging from simple walking on an uneven surface to tripping, falling, or participating in high-impact sports with cutting or jumping actions. Risk increases with several factors, such as wearing inappropriate footwear, having poor posture or form, overexerting, having arthritis, and performing with previous injuries that have caused instability.
Sprains can range from tiny fibrous tears in a ligament to complete ligament tears, so symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury. However, most involve some degree of tearing, pain, tenderness, bruising and/or swelling, and compromised ability to bear weight and maintain stability and balance. With a sprain, patients often recount a twisting injury to their foot or ankle, and severe ligament tearing also can involve a snap or pop that is felt or heard.
Sometimes the resulting pain and dysfunction will extend up the legs, impeding normal activities. “If your pain or arthritis is in the knee, you may not think about your foot being the root cause,” notes Dr. Gross, “but the ankle is part of the kinetic chain going up to your knees, hips, and low back. Weak or unstable ankles can result in knee, hip, and back problems.”
Ankle sprains can be prevented with warm-ups, strengthening to enhance ankle stability, and wearing the proper footwear, but when they occur, they can cause issues and be debilitating.
Most sprains can heal with at-home treatments like rest, ice, compression, and elevation or simple rehabilitation exercises, and pain can be managed with over-the-counter medications or even essential oils. However, if swelling or pain lasts for several weeks, or putting weight on it is difficult, the joint may need evaluation to rule out or confirm a severe sprain or fracture.
More severe sprains require physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises to improve flexibility, strength, and balance; and resistance exercises may be added to strengthen the muscles around the ankle.
For ankle sprains, surgical treatments are rare and reserved for sustained or persistent instability after months of other treatments. Recovery from such surgery requires a period of protective immobilization and additional rehabilitation that can take weeks to months. As such, it is important to seek out proper alternative treatment and not just ignore the injury.
Ignoring even a small sprain can lead to chronic ankle sprains if the ligaments do not have time to completely heal before returning to work, sports, or other activities. It can be difficult to know when a ligament is completely healed, but pain lasting for more than 4–6 weeks may indicate a chronic injury.
“Chronic ankle sprains are a concern because the ankle stays unstable and is easily injured over and over. Treatments like chiropractic care, custom foot orthotics, the Graston Technique, physical therapy, and MLS Laser can help to heal the injury,” comments Dr. Gross.
Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a chronic or untreated severe sprain can weaken your ankle, making it prone to being injured again and leading to long-term problems like chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and instability that all cause more damage to the underlying cartilage and bones.
“An ankle sprain can cause dysfunctions that are only corrected with adjustments,” says Dr. Gross. “We can get the ankle much stronger with chiropractic adjustments because there are 26 bones in the foot and about 33 joints between them. All those articulations have to move properly to have a truly healthy foot.”
It’s important to treat ankle sprains because neglect in correcting stressed ligaments often ends of weakening the ankle, sometimes for life, which increases the likelihood of future injuries and other muscular issues due to your body’s compensation.
Ankle sprains are not insignificant and should be cared for in a serious and comprehensive way like chiropractic treatment. If you have ankle trouble or know someone who does, contact us at Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225 to learn how we can get you back to whole-body health.Schedule an Appointment