Did you know about 30% of all reported sports injuries involve sprained ankles, making it the most common musculoskeletal sports injury? And because that doesn’t include sprained ankles that aren’t treated by a doctor or medical team, thousands of additional ankle sprains happen each year.

If you’re an athlete struggling with a sprained ankle, you probably want to get back in the game as soon as possible. You may even be tempted to play through an ankle sprain if you’re only experiencing mild pain, but that could put you back on the sidelines and keep you there longer.

At LA Orthopaedic Specialists, our providers have the experience and skills necessary to address many types of ankle and foot troubles affecting athletes in Los Angeles, California — including ankle sprains.

Keep reading to learn more about ankle sprains and what to do so you can get back in the game after this common injury.

Ankle sprains 101

Your ankle is a complex with three main bones that are held together with tendons and ligaments. They all work together to help you walk, stand, run, jump, and twist, but even minor displacements, like those that happen if you twist or roll your ankle, can cause an ankle injury.

One type of ankle injury is a sprain, which results when the ligaments in your ankle are injured. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of your sprain, but may include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Instability
  • Bruising
  • Inability to bear weight

Not all ankle sprains are created equal, and they fall into three main types: Grade I, II, or III. These grades describe both the level of damage to your ankle and the impact on your mobility and ankle function.

Because ankle sprain symptoms share symptoms with other sports injuries, it’s important to have your injury evaluated by an experienced provider, like the team at LA Orthopaedic Specialists. Our experts have the experience and knowledge required to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment to prevent ongoing complications.

Getting back in the game

While you might be tempted to think of your ankle sprain as a minor injury and keep playing through it, this can increase your risk of being sidelined again and again since continuing to play doesn’t allow your ankle sprains to heal correctly and may cause a condition called chronic ankle instability.

At least 20% of people with ankle sprains also develop this condition, which results in your foot and ankle rolling inward too frequently and often “giving way” under your weight — sometimes outside practice or the game, like when you’re walking.

Getting back into the game too soon after an ankle sprain or trying to play through it increases your risk of getting chronic ankle instability. Instead, it’s important to see an ankle specialist, like the team at LA Orthopaedic Specialists, for expert advice and a customized treatment plan.

When you come to our offices, your provider assesses your injury and rules out issues, like a stress fracture. While you wait for your appointment, be sure to take precautions to prevent your injury from worsening, like using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).

Before you return to the game or practice, your provider will want you to engage your ankle in rehabilitation activities or exercises that will strengthen your joint so you can meet the demands of your activity. They’ll also look for you to meet key requirements, such as:

  • Having full range of motion
  • Building ankle strength through walking and exercise
  • Having good balance and proprioception (your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location)
  • Passing a functional screening test to ensure minimal risk of re-injury

In addition, your provider may recommend you begin playing with added support with a brace or athletic tape. These are typically only used for a short period as it’s important your ankle not become dependent on them.

If you’re suffering from a sprained ankle and want to get back in the game, contact the ankle experts at LA Orthopaedic Specialists in California. Call the office most convenient to you or schedule an appointment online now.

LA Office Culver City Office
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