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Ankle Sprains and their long term consequences

Ankles – just a sprain?

So many of us have “sprained” an ankle. That general term for “I fell and hurt my ankle and it’s still sore”. In medical terms a sprain is when there is a “stretching or tearing of ligaments” so it’s a useful catch all term for joint injuries that need a bit of rest and Ice but not much more.

But a recent study suggests that there might be longer term implications from a simple ankle sprain. It could affect how much you move as well as your balance, both critical factors for staying well and healthy as we get older.

The study was small and on youngsters but it does suggest that ankle sprains can affect movement long after they should be healed.

So what to do if you’ve sprained your ankle and are now forever landing wrong when you run or tripping over your heels?

Immediately – when you do sprain your ankle the first thing to do is REST and apply ICE. It’s hard to see strained ligaments so X-rays and MRIs won’t tell you very much unless something’s snapped or broken.

Get support – a physical support can help keep you mobile and, most importantly, stop you limping (which causes all kinds of problems later on). Always make sure your support is chosen and fitted by a professional.

Get treatment – some physiotherapy will help to ease the pain and inflammation and Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT) can help to strengthen and regenerate the ligaments for more serious injuries.

Prevention – the best thing is to prevent the sprain happening again – a clinical gait analysis and a review of your foot wear and small adjustments to your stride, training routine and balance training can prevent a recurrence.

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