One of the most common injuries in sports is an inversion (turning inward) ankle sprain. These injuries happen frequently and can have a dramatic effect on the athlete's future performance. In order to properly understand an ankle sprain we need to outline the different grades of sprain.
Grade I- Mild. There is stretching or possibly partial tearing of the lateral ligaments with no loss of stability. You should be able to bear weight on the ankle with minimal pain.
Grade II- Moderate. There is an incomplete tearing of the lateral ligaments with considerable swelling and some bruising (contusion). Bearing weight on the ankle will be difficult and painful.
Grade III- Severe. There is a complete tearing of the lateral ligaments along with complete loss of range of motion and inability to bear weight. In some cases surgical repair may be necessary.
Often most athletes will apply the “PRICE” (protect, rest, ice, compression, elevate) principle in the treatment of these injuries, which is the initial correct treatment. However, a large percentage of these injuries become chronic because they are not properly rehabilitated.
Athletes typically believe once the pain is gone they can return to activity. Unfortunately, the ligaments have not healed properly and the neurologic mechanism (proprioceptive) is not restored, setting the athlete up for another ankle sprain.
If you are experiencing symptoms of an ankle sprain you need to see a physician who specializes in sports medicine or orthopedics. The physician will do a thorough evaluation and make sure you do not have a fracture or torn ligament.
Following the evaluation and rest period, your physician will recommend therapy including modalities to help healing, exercises and rehabilitation to restore proper function in the ankle. This will get you back to activity faster and help prevent further injury of the ankle.