What is a sprain?
A sprain is one of the most common sports injuries and occurs when the collagen fibers in the joint or surrounding ligaments and muscles are severely overstretched. Sprains are often accompanied by bleeding, swelling, and small tears.
Signs & Symptoms of Ankle Sprain
The signs of a sprain are pain, swelling of the joint, bruising, and limited mobility of the joints. As a general rule, we can say that the more swollen the ankle is, the worse the injury. If you can still stand and walk on the ankle after twisting it, it's most likely that nothing's broken.
Causes & Risk Factors of Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains often occur when playing basketball or when jumping or jogging on uneven ground. Knee sprains are common in football, especially when the player turns on his leg while the foot is firmly on the ground, while thumb and finger joints are often sprained in handball and volleyball or when skiing.
Another classic injury is a sprained toe. This happens when we're walking barefoot and catch our toes on a piece of furniture or a half-opened door. Some people have weak ligaments and are more susceptible to sprains than others. People with high foot arches, delayed muscle reaction, or weak muscles are affected more often.
Prevention of Ankle Sprain
Sprains are most common in sports, and there are products you can wear to prevent them (e.g. supports, sports compression socks or wrist guards). These products can help stabilize the joint, prevent sprains, and even help boost athletic performance.
Another good tip: make sure you wear suitable and safe footwear. This also applies to when you are going out in the evening.
How are sprains treated?
Once the foot has been twisted, you should heed the RICE rule for first aid:
R = Rest
I = Ice (cooling)
C = Compression
E = Elevate
As with most sports injuries, you should stop doing whatever you were doing straight away and ice the affected joint immediately. This makes blood vessels constrict, so less fluid leaks into the tissues and the swelling stays minor. Cooling also suppresses the inflammatory reaction, which keeps bruising local and relieves pain.
Depending on the degree of severity of the injury, there are also orthoses for the ankle joint to help stabilize and aid healing.
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