Trainer’s Corner Monthly Blog Series: Ankle Injuries

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jen degman,  certified athletic trainer, central regional hs

By Jen Degnan, a Certified Athletic Trainer at Central Regional Middle School in Bayville, New Jersey. Jen currently works Tuesday nights during Dr. Tauro’s Sports Clinic hours.

Spring is finally here! The warm weather beckons athletes, as well as “weekend warriors”, to go outside and exercise. Unfortunately, this increase in activity can sometimes lead to injury.

A very common injury is an ankle sprain. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “ankle sprains account for almost half of all sports injuries and are a common reason why athletes take time off from activities.”

ankle sprainAn ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments in the ankle. These ligaments connect the bones of the ankle to each other. The injury usually occurs from twisting or rolling the ankle. It is more common to injure the ligaments on the lateral aspect or outside of the ankle.

Often it is an athletic trainer who is the first person on the scene to evaluate an ankle injury. The first thing the athletic trainer does is determine the seriousness of the injury. Ankle sprains are categorized into three grades which are shown in this chart:

ankle 2

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Initial care includes R.I.C.E. — which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Another component in the treatment of an ankle sprain is a rehabilitation program under the guidance of the athletic trainer, following an orthopedic doctor’s orders.

Stretching and strengthening of the ankle joint and the muscles of the lower leg will reduce the risk of re-injury. Upon return to play, ankle support provided by a brace or tape will act as a preventative tool.

Thanks Jenn for the great explanation of ankle sprains! Just a few things to add. Sometimes we will brace moderate sprains or even place severe (grade 3) Spain’s in a removable boot for a few weeks until the swelling is down and some healing has occurred. Most ankle sprains heal fine with conservative treatment and rehabilitation. A minority (perhaps 15%) of grade 3 sprains do not heal well and require surgical reconstruction. One other type of sprain, the so called “high” ankle sprain, tears the ligaments between the tibia and fibula (a “syndesmotic” tear) and these take longer to heal. Rarely, these can also require surgical repair. Thanks again Jenn! For more information on ankle injuries, click here. – Dr. Tauro

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