Ankle sprains – especially those involving rolling over the outside of the ankle - are arguably amongst the top three most frequent musculo-skeletal injuries we inflict upon ourselves… not least because we have become such sedentary and lifestyle-dependant animals.
Hovering perilously on those 6-inch heels and missing that step, focusing on the move on that all-important text message and missing the chink in our pristine London pavements, never mind expecting peak performance of a body and playing a weekly hour of five-a-side football after a week spent chained at a desk, with scant regard to warming up… can you relate to this?
So we keep rolling over those ankles, but unless this results in a paralysing sprain, the next thing we are best at is… hobbling on until we have forgotten about it… at which point the problem must have been sorted, mustn’t it?
In fact, part of the problem is that the human body is highly skilled in trying to accommodate an injury so that it does not become a “show-stopper”. So in the case of an ankle sprain a chain of postural adjustments occur, including the position and “tilt” of the pelvis, the orientation of the hip joint and lower limb, and the relative tension of thigh and calf muscles to try and protect the compromised ankle and prevent a reoccurrence or aggravation of the sprain.
The snag is that as this “tactical adjustment” becomes entrenched, so the body settles into a state of functional imbalance involving lower limb muscle contracture, pelvic torsions and unwanted spinal twists – which explains why so many patients who have forgotten all about an ankle sprain then present with knee, lower back or even neck pain.
The moral of the tale is: do not ignore an ankle sprain, and seek professional assistance to restore its full function before the problem spreads.
Faced with an ankle injury, an osteopath will tend to:
- clinically assess the degree of gravity of the injury to determine whether imaging – MRI of Xray - is advisable before proceeding with treatment – happily, the large majority of ankle sprains we come across in clinic are “good to treat”;
- evaluate the degree to which the body more generally has reacted in adjusting to the local injury;
- treat the ankle, but frequently also work on other areas affected such as the lower back, pelvis and hip and lower limb musculature – treatment modalities typically include joint mobilisation, massage, lymphatic drainage, dry needling and kinesiology taping; and
- provide self-rehabilitation guidance such as hydrotherapy, home exercise and K-taping to accelerate the process of recovery.