What is a sprain?

A sprain, strain or strain, is aninjury to the ligaments by excessive stretching, twisting or tearing, commonly accompanied by hematoma, pain and inflammation that prevents the free movement of the injured joint.

The sprainis one ofthe most frequent trauma injuries, mainly in the ankles and knees, very common among athletes.

Note: The ankle sprain represents the injury that most frequently occurs at the sports level. In the general population it occurs in 1 in 10,000 inhabitants per day at risk of suffering a sprain. (1)

How many types of sprains are there?

Depending on the severity of the injury, the ankle sprain and in general in any joint, is classified as follows:

1. Grade I

First-degree sprains are a minor injury, very common in the anklesprain, which involves less than half of the ligament tissue and can cause a small hematoma on the side of the ankle or injured joint and occurs very frequently when walking.

This type of injury is very common in the general population, with a higher incidence in women older than 46 years (2)tag. Recovery time is estimated within the first 72 hours of the accident.

Note: The vast majority of ankle injuries occur due to overload due to excessive stress on the joint or due to an unexpected accident.

2. Grade II

In the second degree sprain, the injury to the ankle ligaments is more serious, the bruising is much more important and it can even involve partial tears of the ligament.

Ankle mobility is limited, there is moderate pain and difficulty leaning on the ankle, and it often occurs during sports. (3)

Considering that there is a partial tear of the ligaments that hold the joint together, the recovery time for a grade II ankle sprain is three to six weeks before returning to normal activity.

To highlight: The joints most affected by sprains in sports practice are the knee and ankle. (4)

3. Grade III

In a grade III ankle sprain, there is a complete tear of the ligament with joint instability and severe pain, there is inflammation in the ankle joint and the patient is unable to support the foot.

If the immobilization procedure is done correctly, it will not be necessary to resort to surgery. 8 weeks or more of rest are required for the ligaments to heal and then go through a rehabilitation process.

Important: The evaluation of the injury by a specialist doctor is recommended, in order to diagnose its severity, classify and recommend the appropriate treatment.

How does a sprain occur?

The causes for which an ankle sprain occurs are varied. We mention the most common:

1. Falls

Generally when falls onto pavement or rigid objectsoccur , the joints of the body are compromised. In the case of the lower extremities,Involuntary Movement of the ankle or knee joint into an unnatural position may occur.

This causes the ligament or ligaments that join the bones to be stretched beyond their possibilities until distension, tear or rupture.

Note: In women who wear high-heeled shoes, there is a high chance of an ankle sprain.

2. Twists

One of the main causes of sprains is ankle sprains, being an injury in which there is a torsion or stretching of a ligament due to a fall, contortions or blows that occur in most cases unexpectedly.

The sprain caused by twisting usually causes intense pain, swelling in the affected area and produces a bruise.

Highlights: Sprains are common when playing sports, exercising, or wearing inappropriate footwear.

3. Blows

A blow against a fixed or mobile object can also cause a strain in the ligaments that surround the joint, causing in this case, an ankle sprain.

In this case, the joint also loses stability out of its natural position, causing pain and various discomforts.

What are the symptoms of a sprain?

After the traumatic strain of the ligaments that join the joints has occurred, it is common for a series of symptoms to occur, which we describe below:

1. Pain and inflammation

One of the symptoms produced by the sprain is pain. It is asignal produced by the nervous system , and what happens when something is wrong in the joint or something has happened that has modified its movement mechanics.

An ankle sprain causes an unpleasant sensation , such as a prickling, tingling, stinging, burning, or discomfort, that is constant or intermittent and sharp.

Note: Other symptoms may occur, including the appearance of edema or swelling around the joint, which occurs as a defensive response from the immune system.

2. Joint stiffness

After distension of the ankle ligaments, inflammation and pain occur in the injured area, causing the joint to stiffen.

This joint stiffness produces a significant reduction in the biomechanical movement of the ankle, temporarily preventing and depending on the severity of the injury, a limitation to walk or support the foot.

Important: The placement of these joint immobilization systems must be carried out by a specialist doctor.

3. Bruising

In ankle trauma when a sprain occurs, the small blood vessels found in the ligaments and muscles rupture, releasing red blood cells.

These red blood cells accumulate in the skin surrounding the affected joint, forming the hematoma or bruise as it is usually known, disappearing after approximately two weeks.

4. Heat in the area

In grade II and III sprains, when bruising occurs in the area of the injured joint,the blood accumulated in the skin surrounding the injury generates heat .

Note: The heat in the area disappears as the swelling subsides and the bruise at the ankle joint decreases.

What should be done in case of a sprain?

The treatment of ankle sprains will depend on the characteristics of the trauma. Here are some recommendations:

1. Application of cold in the affected area

One of the first actions in case of ankle sprain is the application of ice directly on the skin of the affected area and it must be applied in the first 48 hours.

The primary objective of treatment in case of ankle sprains is to prevent the edema or swelling that occurs, to maintain blood circulation in the area.

Important: Caution must be taken not to use the ice application for prolonged periodsof time, as it can cause skin burns. A specialist doctor or professional therapist will give you the recommendations you should follow.

2. Bandage or ferrule

For those cases of ankle sprains grades I and II, only the use of corrective functional bandage of the injured ligament is required, to reduce inflammation and limit the mobility of the joint. (5)

The treatment of grade III ankle sprains consists of immobilizing the ankle using a rigid splint, a cast or another orthopedic system that completely restricts the mobility of the joint.

Note: After evaluating the sprain, the traumatologist will indicate what type of immobilization strategy should be used.

3. Elevation of the limb

As therapeutic support for ankle sprain treatment, elevation of the affected limb may be indicated to prevent or avoid the inflammatory process of the joint.

In this case, the injured area (ankle) should be above the heart to help drain fluid from the injury and reduce swelling.

4. Save sleep

Rest is indicated for the body to work on the regeneration of muscle, joint and bone tissues involved in the sprain.

Note: The rest period will be indicated by the specialist doctor based on the severity of the injury.

5. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs

To treat the pain and inflammation of the injured ankle and speed up its recovery, the Specialist DoctorMay prescribe analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications, in order tomitigate the discomfort caused by the symptoms of the sprains.

Important: It is recommended not to self-medicate, since the ankle injury differs in its characteristics and there are also people with hypersensitivity to certain medications, which may cause allergic reactions.

Key Findings

  • The main symptoms are pain, swelling and hematoma.
  • This type of injury is classified according to its severity in grades I, II and III sprains. sprains.
  • The Application of ICE to the affected area is the immediate therapeutic measure to prevent swelling.
  • Ankle sprain is one of the Most frequent injuries in sports activities where running or jumping is required.

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