The skeletal system is what gives our body structural support while protecting the vital organs. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissue components of the skeleton that connect bones to each other. The ankle ligaments, in particular, are the most strained ones in the body. It bears the body weight and has to endure all kinds of physical activity we involve in.
Ankle ligament injuries are the most frequent cause of acute ankle pain. The ligaments around the ankle are basically divided into three groups: the lateral ligaments, the deltoid ligament on the medial side, and the ligaments of the tibiofibular syndesmosis. These ligaments connect the portions of the tibia and fibula leg bones.1
Types Of Ankle Ligament Injuries
Excessive stress that leads to inward twisting of the ankle is the biggest cause of an ankle ligament injury. The sprain can be divided into 3 degrees based on the complexity of the injury.2
First Degree Sprain
Occurs following a minimal stretch or tear. This is marked by mild pain, difficulty walking, tenderness, and swelling. There is no disability and recovery happens in 4-6 weeks.
People who had suffered this type of a ligament injury complain that a popping or snapping sound was heard at the time of the injury. There is a considerable amount of swelling and tenderness which can restrict movement. A bruise is present at the ankle and it takes at least 4-8 weeks to heal.
This type of injury involves the dislocation of the ankle joint. It’s associated with immense pain, swelling and inability to move the leg. It takes usually 6-12 weeks to recover and even have long-term distress.
Symptoms Of An Ankle Ligament Injury
The signs of a sprained or torn ankle ligament are similar to any other soft tissue injury. The intensity of the symptoms varies according to the pain threshold and severity of an injury.
Pain And Tenderness
The foremost symptom of a sprain is pain that intensifies with touch or movement.
An ankle ligament that has suffered a second or third-degree injury is associated with swelling. The swollen ankle feels warm and tender to touch.
Appearance Of A Bruise
When blood vessels rupture at the ankle, a purple-colored bruise appears in the absence of an external wound. It resolves in a week or two.
Inability To Move
The injured ligament restricts the range of motion of the joint. The leg feels stiff and if you try to exert pressure on the ankle, it hurts really bad.
Proper Management Of An Ankle Injury
Regardless of the kind of injury your ankle has suffered, its management should follow the steps of the R.I.C.E guidelines.3
Rest Your Ankle
Resting your ankle means refraining from any activity that will put pressure on it. Wear an ankle brace to reduce the swelling and enhance healing. Use crutches if you have to move around so that there is no pressure on the affected ankle.
Ice The Region
Ice can be applied to the area every 10-15 minutes to reduce swelling. Avoid a frostbite by applying it for less than 20 minutes at a time.
Compress The Site
Compression is done using ankle braces or casts or splints. It is done to immobilize the ankle and speed up the recovery.
Elevate The Foot
Every time you lie down, make sure that the foot is propped on a pillow at a level above the heart or waist.
Once your swelling and pain decrease, you are supposed to practice strengthening exercises for the ankle joint. This will help it to regain the range of motion. During recovery, you must follow a diet rich in calcium, phosphorus, and lot of antioxidants to boost your wound healing capacity.
Many ignore the importance of the rehabilitation phase of an ankle injury and end up suffering long-term consequences. These include arthritis, chronic ankle pain, and instability. The only way to prevent an ankle injury is by listening to your body’s indication of distress.
|↑1||Golanó, Pau, Jordi Vega, Peter AJ De Leeuw, Francesc Malagelada, M. Cristina Manzanares, Víctor Götzens, and C. Niek Van Dijk. “Anatomy of the ankle ligaments: a pictorial essay.” Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 18, no. 5 (2010): 557-569.|
|↑2||Torn Ankle Ligaments. UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HOSPITALS AND CLINICS|
|↑3||How to Care for a Sprained Ankle. FootCareMD|