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  • Writer's pictureAndray Voronov

Osteopath in Narre Warren explains Ankle Sprains and When to Seek Medical Imaging



Introduction

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, affecting athletes and non-athletes alike. While many sprains heal with conservative treatment, some cases may require further evaluation through medical imaging. Recently, I had a case in the clinic, which prompted this particular article. In particular, I want to explain when a sprain may be something more and when to get it scanned.


Understanding Ankle Sprains

The Basics

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits, which may or may not tear (depending on the grade). Ligaments are strong, flexible fibres that connect bones and provide stability to the joints. The severity of an ankle sprain can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the ligament damage.


Common Types of Ankle Sprains

  1. Lateral Ankle Sprains: The most common type, affecting the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, particularly the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL).

  2. Medial Ankle Sprains: Less common, involving the ligaments on the inside of the ankle, known as the deltoid ligaments.

  3. High Ankle Sprains: Involving the ligaments above the ankle that connect the tibia and fibula, often seen in contact sports.


Scientific Evidence

Studies have shown that ankle sprains account for up to 30% of all sports injuries. Research indicates that proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing chronic instability and recurrent injuries.


Causes

Ankle sprains can occur due to:

  • Sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle

  • Walking or running on uneven surfaces

  • Wearing inappropriate footwear

  • Participating in high-impact sports


Impact

Ankle sprains can lead to pain, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion. Severe sprains may result in long-term instability and increased risk of future sprains.


When to Seek Medical Imaging

Signs to Look Out For

While many ankle sprains can be managed with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), certain signs indicate the need for further evaluation through medical imaging:

  • Severe pain and inability to bear weight

  • Significant swelling or bruising

  • Deformity or abnormal alignment of the ankle

  • Persistent pain and instability after initial treatment

  • Suspected fractures or ligament ruptures


Possible Findings from Medical Imaging

  1. ATFL Ruptures: The anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) is the most commonly injured ligament in ankle sprains. Imaging can confirm partial or complete ruptures, which may require specific treatment protocols.

  2. Avulsion Fractures: Occur when a fragment of bone is pulled off by a ligament or tendon. These fractures are often associated with severe sprains and can be identified through X-rays or other imaging techniques.

  3. Osteochondral Lesions: Injuries to the cartilage and underlying bone within the ankle joint, detectable through MRI scans.

  4. Syndesmotic Injuries: High ankle sprains involving the syndesmotic ligaments between the tibia and fibula, best visualised with advanced imaging techniques.


How Osteopathy Can Help

Osteopathy offers a holistic approach to treating ankle sprains by addressing the underlying causes and promoting optimal healing. Osteopaths use manual techniques to improve joint function, reduce pain, and enhance recovery. Osteopath's may also refer patients to seek diagnostic imaging to investigate ankle sprains if injuries don't recover within the expected timeframe. Following this, ostepaths can also begin you on your rehabilitation journey with a comprehensive strength training program to get you back to doing what you love again.


Osteopathic Interventions

Osteopathic treatment for ankle sprains may include:

  • Soft Tissue Manipulation: To reduce muscle tension and swelling.

  • Joint Mobilisation: Gentle movements to restore joint mobility and function.

  • Rehabilitation Exercises: Tailored exercises to strengthen the ankle and prevent future injuries.

  • Postural and Gait Assessment: Analysis of walking patterns to identify and correct biomechanical issues.


Role of an Osteopath in Narre Warren or Berwick

Consulting an osteopath in Narre Warren or Berwick can provide you with personalised care and local support. These osteopaths are trained to assess and treat musculoskeletal conditions like ankle sprains, offering targeted treatments that consider your unique needs and lifestyle.


Practical Tips for Managing Ankle Sprains

  1. Rest: Avoid activities that stress the ankle.

  2. Ice: Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.

  3. Compression: Use compression bandages to support the injured ankle.

  4. Elevation: Elevate the ankle to minimise swelling.

  5. Rehabilitation: Engage in exercises to restore strength and flexibility, as advised by your osteopath.


FAQs

Q: How long does it take to recover from an ankle sprain? A: Recovery time varies, but most mild to moderate sprains heal within 2 to 6 weeks. Severe sprains may take longer and require ongoing rehabilitation.

Q: Can ankle sprains be prevented? A: Yes, by wearing appropriate footwear, avoiding uneven surfaces, and engaging in strength and balance exercises, you can reduce the risk of ankle sprains.

Q: When should I see an osteopath for an ankle sprain? A: If you experience severe pain, significant swelling, or if the sprain does not improve with initial treatment, it's advisable to consult an osteopath.



Ankle sprains are common but can be effectively managed with the right approach. Understanding when to seek medical imaging and recognising the signs of more severe injuries are crucial for optimal recovery. Consulting an osteopath near you, particularly in areas like Narre Warren or Berwick, can provide specialised care tailored to your needs. With proper treatment and rehabilitation, you can regain strength and stability in your ankle, preventing future injuries. If you're suffering from an ankle sprain, consider reaching out to us by heading to www.gravityosteo.com/book or giving us a call on 0493 031 231 for professional advice and treatment.

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