Common Causes and Symptoms
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries sustained by athletes, because of the repetitive force on the ankle joint. But you don't have to be an athlete to suffer an ankle injury. The ligaments surrounding the ankle support a full range of motion provided they are not put in an awkward position. The causes of an ankle sprain are simple, unfortunately we can't always predict the stability of our footing. While an ankle can be injured by an awkward landing there are some factors that make us more susceptible to an ankle sprain. Before considering these factors let us first remember that we are discussing the feet and anything that compromises our footing puts us at risk of injury. These other influences include stepping on uneven surfaces, obesity, not thoroughly warming up supportive muscle groups, incorrect footwear and previous ankle injuries that could have weakened the ankle.
Following an ankle sprain you will experience one or all of these symptoms in varying degrees depending on the severity of the injury. Upon spraining your ankle you will feel acute and localized pain and it will be difficult to stand with any weight on the injured ankle. Depending on the severity of the sprain there will be mild to heavy swelling of the ankle as blood surrounds the injured tissue and this will continue over the next 24 hours as more fluid leaks into the area. Because of this leaky fluid and blood the tissues may also feel warm and may turn ecchymotic (bruised). Furthermore, the area will be very sensitive to touch and may throb. If the pain continues to be severe over the next week despite RICE treatments you should contact your doctor immediately to ensure you have not suffered a more serious injury such as a fracture.
Severe or repeated mild sprains may lead to an irritation and thickening of the injured ligaments that could cause some complication at the ankle joint.
For those who have sprained an ankle it is often the case that the injury occurs again. Recurring ankle sprains may point to a condition called "ankle instability". This is a chronic condition and usually develops because a previous ankle sprain has not fully healed leaving the ligaments stretched and prone to reinjury. Chronic ankle instability is often accompanied by repeated rolling over of the lateral side (outer) of the ankle and continual pain and swelling.
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