An Overview of the Most Common Sports Injury - Ankle Sprains and Strains

Ankle sprains and strains are among the most common sports related injuries in both children and adults. If you have played sports at one time or another, chances are that you have experienced a twisted ankle, or a sprain.

A sprain is when the twisting causes an injury to ankle ligaments, and a strain involves injury to one of the muscles surrounding the joint. Athletes, however, are not the only ones who are susceptible to ankle strains and sprains.

An ankle sprain may even occur when walking, traveling upstairs, stepping off a curb or moving awkwardly. A sprain may occur in everyday acts of life which turns into an awkward story to have to tell friends and coworkers.

Common Ankle Sprain Symptoms

Nearly all sprains, no matter what degree of severity, cause pain. When the sprain is mild, the pain is typically less than if it is severe. There are 3 grades to sprains of the ankle, and a Grade 1 sprain involves mild pain.

The most common symptoms of an ankle sprain, aside from pain, include swelling and bruising. Bruising is common when the injury was a result of a twisting sprain, and involves bleeding into the area.

It is not uncommon for a sprain to result in foot pain and radiating pain up the lower leg. The body is dealing with the pain and it can be felt in surrounding regions. Taking ibuprofen for pain and inflammation can be helpful while you are waiting to have your ankle examined by a trained specialist along with utilizing RICE - rest, ice compression, and elevation of the ankle.

Ankle Sprain Treatment

Treatment for a sprain is contingent on the severity of the injury. Minor sprains require minimal treatment, while severe sprains may require emergent medical care. In unusual circumstances, such as athletes with severe Grade 3 sprain injuries (tears of the ligament), surgical solutions may be the only alternative to repair the damaged ligaments that have torn and will not heal, creating instability.

Since ligaments can deteriorate over time, it is important to seek medical care for even a minor ankle sprain. A trained specialist may be able to assist with preventative measures so that further injury is avoided. This may require a splint for pain control and to allow the ligaments to "scar down" for proper healing.

Common treatment for minor and mid-level sprains involves elevating the foot and applying ice immediately in order to reduce swelling and inflammation. Patients are advised to eliminate as much weight on the foot as possible to reduce pressure and allow the ankle to heal. This may involve crutches. Compression bandages may be applied to keep the ankle and foot immobile while the healing process takes place.

If you believe you have sprained your ankle and are experiencing symptoms of pain and swelling, it is important to have the injury checked by a specialist. Lower leg conditions can lead to problems over time if left untreated.