Last Updated on October 29, 2021
Ankle sprains are a common lower leg injury we see at Inner Gate Health & Wellness. They occur commonly in sports where direct engagement against other competitors can modify landing positions, such as soccer or basketball but are also common in track & field and gymnastics. Ankle sprains cause damage to the ligaments of the ankle. Ligaments are short bands of connective tissue that connect bone to bone over joints.
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Anatomy of a Sprain:
There are three joints in the ankle.
Tibiofibular syndesmosis – This is where the tibia and the fibula come together. Talocrural joint – This is where the fibula and tibia connect to the ankle or talus bone. Subtalar joint – This is where the ankle bone is connected to the heel bone.
Ankle movement and stability are controlled by ligaments and muscles. The muscles actively move the ankle into positions such as pointing toes, flexing toes, and rolling the ankle in and out. The ligaments act to stabilize and limit the ankle movements in a safe range of motion.
Ankle sprains occur when a strong force is applied to the ankle that pushes the ligaments beyond their normal position. This causes damage to the ligaments.
The three ligaments assessed when treating ankle sprain are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).
Symptoms of a Sprain:
The most common symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
- Patients are usually aware of the moment when the injury occurs.
- Pain and swelling localize at the site of injury.
- Pain is worse when bearing weight on the ankle.
- Discoloration and bruising occur 24 to 48 hours after the injury.
- Decreased function and stability of the foot.
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Treatment of an Ankle Sprain:
Acupuncture treatment should begin immediately after injury to reduce pain and swelling. Further treatment for ankle sprains is based on the severity of the sprain. Assessment is difficult initially due to the swelling and pain, but after 4-7 days better assessment can be performed.
In the past the idea was complete immobilization and no weight bearing. Now that has changed and recovery appears to be improved by bearing some weight and maintaining range of motion as much as possible.
It is important to rule out stress fractures to the area. These will present differently and heal differently as well.
Acupunture: Treatment with acupuncture is applied near the damaged ligaments to improve blood flow and speed their healing. The treatment also reduces swelling and pain over the area so patients can maintain more range of motion.
Treatment of muscles in the region re-balances the muscles to aid in recovery but also importantly to prevent re-injury and stabilize the ankle correctly.
Manual therapy: Soft tissue work over the ankle is also very beneficial to promote circulation. Pushing inflamed fluids out of the ankle and gently working the range of motion speeds recovery and reduces pain.
Therapeutic exercises: Specific exercises to help strengthen the ligaments, muscles and tendons of the foot are used for home care. Patients that perform corrective exercises at home recover strength and range of motion at a faster rate than those that don’t. The better design of these exercises the better they are at helping facilitate complete recovery and preventing re-injury.
Can Acupuncture Give You Relief From Your Ankle Sprain?
Many people report significant improvements in pain and function of their sprained ankle after going through acupuncture treatment. One of the best parts is that there aren’t any adverse side effects from acupuncture—you can receive treatment in harmony with anything else that brings you relief. No matter the severity of your sprained ankle, acupuncture offers pain relief and recovery benefits.
Searching for relief from an ankle sprain or other injury? Learn more about our acupuncture services and consider scheduling an appointment with our certified Portland acupuncturists today!
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