Lateral Ankle Sprains

They see me rollin’ ankle....

Anyone who has ever been involved in sport, trekked through an uneven bush trail, or even just walked along a cobblestone street knows the struggle…. That one step you take, just like the millions before it, that your leg decides it can’t handle. Your ankle buckles underneath you and you crash to the ground. There’s immediate pain on the outside of your foot, sometimes a nasty pop and within minutes your ankle is puffy and swollen. You’ve just experienced a lateral ankle sprain, more commonly known as rolled ankle.

For a lot of people, a rolled ankle is nothing more than an everyday annoyance. If it’s relatively mild, you might take a few ginger steps, utter a few choice expletives, and get on with your day. If you’ve done a better job of it, you might hobble around for a few days and maybe even grab a pair of crutches until it settles down. If it’s really bad, you might have to head to the emergency department to get yourself some x-rays. If the x-rays are clear you head home and wait a few weeks for everything to return to normal and it’s back to business as usual.

Unfortunately, this nonchalant attitude towards ankle injuries isn’t the best long-term approach. It’s not uncommon to see people roll their ankle but insist that it happens all the time and that it’s nothing to worry about. This is just the problem, it IS something to worry about. Ankle sprains appear to heal fairly well and are rarely regarded with the same severity as knee or hip injuries. The pain and swelling can both subside quickly and not leave obvious adverse side effects. However, not adequately rehabilitating an injured ankle can have long-term consequences. The most common finding in people with a history of ankle sprains is chronic instability. This can be a feeling of “giving-way” that is easily recognizable due to the frequent recurrence of ankle rolls.

This is commonly accepted as an inevitability (it isn’t!) after ankle injury and most people are unaware of the potential impact it can have on their physical health.

Ankle instability can cause issues at other joints, particularly the hips, as they need to compensate for the lack of stability at the ankle. Over time, this change in movement patterns can lead to problems in the back, knees and hips. Even more importantly, chronic ankle instability has also been associated with increased rates of post-traumatic osteoarthritis in the ankle. While osteoarthritis can be managed effectively it can’t be cured. This becomes problematic when someone suffers multiple traumatic ankle injuries through their childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. These cumulative injuries increase their risk of developing early-onset osteoarthritis in their 20’s or 30’s, a condition they will have to live with for the remainder of their lives.

Approximately 50% of people that suffer ankle sprains don’t seek professional treatment...Don’t be one of those people! If you or someone you know rolls their ankle, make sure to have it properly assessed! A simple rehabilitation program now can save you a lot of grief in the future!

Are you suffering from Ankle Pain? Book in to see one of our physio's today - book online here or call us on (08) 9448 2994!

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