Ankle Sprains are a common sports injury but also occur accidentally during everyday life when we misstep. There are many ligaments located within your foot and ankle region. The most commonly sprained ligament in located more towards the outside or “lateral” side of your ankle. This ligament is called your anterior talofibular ligament. Sprains are graded based on severity. The severity of your sprain will dictate treatment intervention.
Often the course of action is to immobilize the foot and ankle region. Usually a “walking boot” is prescribed by your doctor. The duration prescribed can be anywhere from 4-8 weeks depending on severity. The boot may be cumbersome and annoying but the boot keeps your ankle in neutral and allows the ligament to heal. Ligaments have poor blood flow and can be slow healing.
Side effects from being immobilized include joint stiffness, weakness and poor mobility of the surrounding soft tissue. The good news is the boot is removable and you are able to start physical therapy before being discharged from the boot. Following discharge from the boot a solid rehab program will also include proprioceptive training or balance training to improve your body’s information system between your foot and your brain. Without proper training you are more likely to sprain your ankle again following your initial injury.
If you injured your ankle consider an evaluation from your healthcare provider. Don’t just put an elastic wrap around your ankle and keep going. Evaluation by a healthcare provider can determine if your injury warrants diagnostic tests. What you think is a sprain can in fact be a tear or even a fracture. Pain and discoloration are not the only indicators of injury severity. Your healthcare provider can start you moving in the right direction sooner even if that means starting with the walking boot first.