When it’s back to school time, we’re also back to fall or spring sports, gym class, and recess. Summer is also often a time for additional sports activities or neighborhood pickup games. With any physical activity comes the risk of sports related injuries. The most common of these is ankle sprains, which in my opinion is usually not treated appropriately. We’ve all heard the advice of “rest it for a few days” or “just wear a brace and get back out there.” Or my personal favorite “just rub some dirt on it.” Now the problem with this advice is that most sprained ankles do feel better after a few days, but that doesn’t mean they are healed.
The most frequent type of “rolled ankle” sprain involves rupturing one of the three ligaments that connects the outside of your ankle to the outside of your foot. If you continue activity as usual on this injury, the torn ends of that ligament continue to move and deteriorate until the normal strong ligament is basically gone. This will not cause much of an issue for normal activity, but can result in a chronic weak point in ankle motion that will cause the ankle to “give out” if the foot is planted in a certain position. It can also cause more severe injuries down the road.
When I am treating a recent ankle sprain I will first immobilize the ankle at 90 degrees for two weeks or more depending on its severity. This is typically done using a walking boot. This allows you to remove the boot for sleeping and to ice the ankle regularly. You will also be given instructions on therapy involving gentle moving of the ankle to prevent stiffness. After two weeks the boot comes off and more active physical therapy begins, usually lasting an additional two to three weeks before full activity can be resumed.
Now, a month or more out of sports activities sounds like a lot, but considering the lifelong pain and instability that can be associated with an under-treated ankle injury, it’s more than worth it.
So, if anyone has questions or concerns about a recent or past injury please make an appointment with us and we can talk about how to get you back in the ol’ ball game.