When I embark on an article of this nature I’m tempted to go on and on with specific mechanism of injuries, tissue types, and explanations that tend to come across as gobbeldy gook to most of my readers… Somebody Stop Me!
I’m going to take a stab at this topic with as plain of a delivery as I can yet still impart the important concepts.
The most common type of ankle sprain is what’s known as an eversion sprain. This is when one rolls over the outside/lateral side of the foot. That would be the right side of the right foot and left side of the left foot.
If the sprain is mild, one can use the following acronym RICE which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and elevation. This means crutches or a cane, and staying off of it as much as possible (Rest). Twenty minutes of ice with at least two hours between applications three times a day, five would be better. This protocol should be at least for the first seventy-two hours after the sprain. (Ice) Wearing an ace type bandage or compression stocking. (Compression) And the last part of this, designated sofa time with your ankle elevated on the back of the sofa or with pillows ideally above the level of your heart. (Elevation)
The aforementioned protocol is good for all ankle sprains however some sprains are more serious and may require more in the way of long term care.
If this is your first sprain and there is nominal swelling and no visible bruising, you are probably not more likely than anyone else to have another sprain.
If this is your third sprain, or you have massive swelling and visible bruising, you may have done enough damage to the ligaments that you now may have a more long-term problem. Its not a situation of will you sprain it again, but when.
Ligaments are full of proprioceptive fibers. These are fibers that work within the nervous system to tell us where we are in gravity. When they are stretched beyond their design parameters, they loose their mind body connection leaving us less aware of where our parts are in gravity or….. in other terms, with slower reaction time when the damaged body part goes beyond its normal range of motion. Simply put, when your ankle starts to go over the outside edge of your food, your reaction time is reduced enough that you can’t catch it in time and thus, over you go with another sprain in the making.
These fibers can in fact be rehabilitated over time by putting them on a regimen of progressively unstable surfaces and literally practicing your balance like you would practice any sport.
This is something a Chiropractor who has this training or a physical therapist can guide you in doing. If you’ve been a chronic ankle sprainer, its not will it happen again, its when will it happen next, unless you do this type of work.
I’ll try to address the progressive levels of unstable surfaces in another article later. I hope this proves helpful particularly to those of you who’ve sprained your ankle(s) more than once. Yes, there is hope.