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Treat Your Own World Cup Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is one of the commonest sporting injuries, particularly in contact sports such as soccer which is particularly topical during the World Cup. It is often a sports related injury but you can sprain your ankle stepping on the edge of a kerb or landing awkwardly from a small jump. The ankle is a strong joint of a mortice design, with the ankle bone (talus) held in the mortice made up of the lower ends of the tibia and fibula. Strong ligaments bind the ankle together to resist the weight of the body pushing the joint into an unsuitable position.

The bones are held together by the ligament and if the bones are pushed apart at too fast a rate or with too much power then the ligament can be sprained (a proportion of its fibres torn) or ruptured (torn ankle ligaments completely). Ankle sprains are much more common and immediately obvious to the person who suffers onset of a sudden severe acute pain typically in the outside of the ankle as the foot has been forcefully turned in. Initial symptoms will be pain and swelling, often an egg like swelling puffs out quite quickly, with some unwillingness to weight bear. Bruising may occur a little later due to the bleeding from the injury inside.

Initial treatment for a sprained ankle is ice or cold therapy and compression, which is very useful for ankles as it prevents excessive swelling developing and should be maintained for several days, either with a bandage or an ankle support. Painkillers are also useful as pain will prevent you using your ankle and it is good to allow as much function from your joint without damaging things further. Rest your ankle up on a support, higher than your heart if you can, whenever you are sitting and you may need to keep it out from under the bedclothes or use a bed cradle to prevent pressure on the foot.

Physiotherapy for ankle sprains covers cold and compression and moves on to active up and down exercises of the foot many times a day. Gait correction is used to normalise walking gradually and return the ankle towards normal use. Once the pain is settling, weight bearing exercises are performed and gradually progressed until wobble board work for joint position sense is achieved. Full movement, strength and impact absorption should be restored before going back to any vigorous pursuit.


Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth

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