Your ankles are like the shocks of your body. As there’s plenty of force to withstand and your body weight to bear, your ankles, feet, and toes need sufficient amount of physical exercise. To put things into perspective, your ankles require intensive training to avoid the dysfunction of your lower extremities.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries associated with playing sports. As you jump, move quickly, or change directions frequently while indulging in your favorite sport, there’s every chance that you can have an ankle sprain. Even something as innocuous as miss-stepping a stair, curb, or any uneven surface can leave you with a sprained ankle.
What Is An Ankle Sprain?
It is estimated that about 25,000 people sprain their ankles every day in the US. Out of all these regrettable injuries, 85 percent of them are a rolling in or an inversion of the ankle. Typically, ligaments on the outside of your ankle tend to get stretched or torn. Based on the severity of the ligament damage, a sprain can be classified into 3 different injury grades – grades I, II, and III.
If your ligament is partially or completely torn, it means that you have a grade II or III injury. Treatment for these kinds of injuries start with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and also includes immobilization for healing. A rehabilitation process is then followed to avoid recurrence.1
The Long-Term Effects Of An Ankle Sprain
In most cases of ankle sprains, people end up getting back to their regular routine too early or ignore any kind of treatment in the first place. Ankle injuries can lead to long-term effects like chronic pain along the outside of your ankle. In fact, there are 4 common causes of pain when it comes to dealing with an ankle sprain:2 3
- Impingement: Along with ligament damage, your joint capsule or ankle lining may also be torn.
- Peroneal tendon tear: The peroneus brevis, a tendon that runs behind the fibula, can tear or split.
- Osteochondral defect of the talus: This injury involves a broken piece of cartilage that may be attached to an underlying bone from the talus
- Ankle instability: When your ligaments are still stretched and haven’t healed properly, you could end up having functional or mechanical instability.
When you have an ankle sprain, most people just dismiss the injury as something normal, which can be healed with a little rest and an ice pack. What most of you don’t realize is the fact that an ankle sprain can have nagging consequences that can even be seen years after the initial injury. Here are some of the long-term effects of ankle sprains that you may have to deal with.
1. Joint Instability Due To Ankle Sprains
Ligaments hold your bones together, thereby making your joints stable. On the flip side, ankle sprains are results of stretched ligaments. This way, the stability of your ankle decreases and you may feel like your ankle will give out if you stand on it.
This instability that you feel can lead to an ankle sprain again. You can treat your unstable ankle with bracing or by strengthening the muscles around your ankle. If conservative treatment isn’t enough, you may need surgery.4
2. Stiffness And Swelling Due To Ankle Sprains
As your ankle’s mobility becomes limited, swelling can easily lead to stiffness. Consequently, you may find it difficult to walk and maintain your balance.
To treat a stiff ankle, improve the mobility of your ankle joint by taking up range-of-motion exercises. A swollen ankle can be treated by elevating your leg or wrapping your ankle with an elastic bandage.
3. Crepitus And Weakness Due To Ankle Sprains
Are you experiencing a grating sound or sensation when you move your ankle? This happens because your ligaments are damaged. Crepitus might either occur for all kinds of ankle movements or when it is swollen. You may even tend to feel weak after an ankle sprain because of muscle or tendon damage. As you’re recuperating from an ankle injury, you may also feel weak because your ankle movement is limited and you’re not in a position to use it freely. Strengthening exercises are the best step forward when it comes to treating weakness.
Ankle sprains that are treated early and properly are less likely to lead to any long-term effects. Remember to consult with a qualified medical professional whenever you have an ankle injury, no matter what the extent of damage is. If you’re just not able to move your ankle or bear any weight on it, you should seek medical help straight away! Additionally, don’t ignore any pain that you have because of an ankle sprain that you’ve had previously.
|↑1||How to Care for a Sprained Ankle. American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society.|
|↑2||Peroneal Tendon Injuries. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).|
|↑3||Chronic Ankle Instability. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS)|
|↑4||Ankle Instability. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.|