By Ryan Lampe, PT/ATC and Clinic Manager at ApexNetwork Physical Therapy in Breese, IL
It is inevitable that your athletic son or daughter will probably endure an ankle sprain throughout their respective sporting career. There are three types of sprains that athletes of all ages have to deal with when they hurt their ankle. A grade I sprain usually involves a minor strain of the ligament complex in your ankle resulting in pain and minimal swelling. Most ankle sprains are inversion sprains, which result in the foot rolling inward causing an injury to the ligaments on the lateral surface of the foot.
With a grade I ankle sprain, usually the R.I.C.E. method is recommended. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Sometimes anti-inflammatories can be used to speed up the process. Usually a grade I ankle sprain results in minimal swelling and the athlete can return back to playing sports in a couple of days.
Grade II ankle sprains usually involve a more severe injury to the ligament complex. Usually with grade II sprains, there is a stretch injury to the ligament complex or even a small tear is noted. Grade II ankle injuries can result in more swelling and more pain and also leads to more time needed to get back on the athletic field. Grade II ankle sprains sometimes will require an x-ray to rule out a fracture to the ankle. Sometimes a grade II ankle sprain also requires physical therapy to help your athlete get back the field quicker. The R.I.C.E. method is also recommended for grade II along with wrapping the ankle to help control some of the inflammation.
Grade III is the most severe ankle sprain that you can endure and often results in a disruption or complete tear of one of the ligament complexes of the ankle. Grade III should also be x-rayed an may require more intense physical therapy to help with swelling and to regain range of motion to get the athlete back on the playing field. When your athlete does endure an ankle injury, they are more likely to have ankle injuries in the future. Most of the time the ligaments stretch when there is a sprain and the ligaments will not return back to normal thus you need to strengthen up the muscles around the ankle joint to provide stability. Physical therapy is vital and strengthening the ankle will help an athlete return back to his/her prior function.
If you need further information regarding how to help treat ankle injuries or are looking for exercises to help prevent an ankle injury, please feel free to contact your local ApexNetwork Physical Therapy.