The long-term effects of a sprained ankle
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries, making up about 14% of all sports-related injuries. People will often notice pain and weakness in the ankle for months afterwards, and if it isn’t rehabilitated properly, the ankle can be more likely to suffer repeated sprains throughout life… and the reasons why are really quite interesting!
An ankle sprain means that there has been some damage done to the ligaments that support the ankle. Ligaments contain many nerves (called proprioceptors) that are specially designed to send signals back up to the brain, telling the balance controls in your central nervous system about where your ankle is in space. Your brain then sends signals to the muscles around the ankle to moderate muscle tension, control ankle position, and keep the ankle stable (all of this usually happens without you even being aware of it!).
After damage occurs to the ankle ligaments, these proprioceptive nerve signals from the ligaments are disrupted, meaning your brain has less effective control over the muscle tension around the ankle, because it has less signals telling it where the ankle is in space. This leads to muscular instability around the ankle, alongside the ligamentous instability that occurs as a result of the ligaments being stretched or torn.
Osteopaths can help in a number of ways following an ankle sprain. We can show you exercises designed to re-build the nerve pathways from ankle to brain. We will make sure the ankle and foot are moving as well as possible and will assess and address any problems that come up elsewhere in the body as the result of the ankle injury or any limping or altered weight-bearing that you may have been doing as a result of ankle pain.
Ankle sprains may seem fairly minor injuries, but they can have profound effects throughout the whole body. With some guidance and a good rehabilitation and treatment plan, we can get you back to doing what you love!