Sprained Ankle : Tennis Injuries

There are five main inner and outer ligaments in the ankle that consist of soft tissue connecting the bones in the ankle that hold the joints together for foot movement. The five ligaments in the ankle are called the posterior tibiofibular, anterior tibiofibular, lateral (collateral), bifurcate, and medial (deltoid). A sprained ankle occurs when you twist your ankle during a sport like tennis, stretching or tearing one of these ligaments. The severity of the sprain depends on the damage to the ligament.

Symptoms of Sprained Ankle

During a tennis match, you may feel sudden pain and restricted movement in your ankle if the ligament is torn or snaps. Some people actually hear the snapping sound and then cannot stand on the affected foot without losing balance. Shortly after the sensation of pain, stiffness follows due to the swelling of the ankle. Bruising may develop at a slower rate but will surround the inflated ankle area.

Causes of Sprained Ankle

An inversion sprain is the most common sprained ankle injury and happens when the sole of your foot twists inwards, compressing the ligaments on the inside, such as the medial (deltoid) ligament, pulling or overextending the outer ligaments of the ankle. In tennis, players have to run from one side of the court to the other, changing direction rapidly to strike the ball with their racquets. This abrupt change in direction or repetitive stopping and starting can cause a sprained ankle injury.

Once you have had a sprained ankle injury, the ligaments in the ankle are weaker and reoccurrence is highly probable. A sprained ankle can then occur from walking on uneven ground or up and down stairs en-route to the tennis court. Tennis players should avoid wearing shoes causing discomfort or loss of balance outside of playing tennis because of their susceptibility to ankle injury.

Self Treatment of Sprained Ankle

When the ankle sprain is not that severe some tennis players choose self-remedy to treat the ankle, such as raising and resting the hurt foot, or immediately applying an ice-pack for up to 72 hours in intervals of fifteen to twenty minutes, every two to three hours. They may also bandage the sprained ankle to compress swelling and wear shoes that lace up high for support.

Avoiding playing further tennis until the pain subsides and gentle exercise thereafter is recommended. Paracetamol can be used to reduce pain, but no non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) or creams should be used after the injury because the inflammation is what aids healing and these NSAID drugs and creams will reduce inflammation that will impede healthy recovery. Ask your local pharmacist for advice if necessary.

Medical Treatment of Sprained Ankle

You can determine if you need to see a doctor or physiotherapist by the amount of pain when trying to step down on the ankle and walk a few steps after injury, by the amount of swelling in the ankle, by continued pain and swelling after attempted self-treatment, by the numbness of your ankle and/or if there is a red protrusion around the bone area of the ankle that may indicate a fracture or break in the bone.

If the ankle sprain injury is severe, see your doctor to examine the ankle, to talk about how the sprain occurred, and to explore the symptoms. Should the bone be damaged, such as a fracture, your doctor may refer you for an X-ray of the ankle to decide on further treatment. Also if the torn ankle ligament does not heal, your doctor may recommend wearing a cast or support brace for walking and playing sport, and surgery as a last resort to repair the ligament.

Preventing Sprained Ankle Injury

You can reduce the risk of spraining your ankle by learning how to strengthen the muscles in the ankle region through the help of a physiotherapist or sports therapist. Players should consider wearing a support brace in the case of prior injury. Other preventative measures of ankle sprain include not doing excessive exercise when tired, wearing appropriate tennis shoes that support balance, removing obstacles you could trip over, and being aware of the surfaces you walk on. It is best to seek professional advice when deciding to do a certain type of exercise regularly, for long periods, or when deciding to play tennis competitively.

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