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Ankle Sprains in Soccer

Dr. Stephanie Nichols breaks down what to do when you suffer an ankle sprain, when to know if its serious, and how to rehab it properly.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in soccer. They can side-line any player from training and competing and are difficult to prevent from coming back. Lateral ankle sprains are an injury to your ligaments on the outside of your ankle. A medial ankle sprain is when your ligament on the inside of your ankle is injured. It is often associated with a fracture of your fibula (outside lower leg bone) or other bones in your ankle. This type of sprain occurs much less frequently than a lateral ankle sprain and may take twice as long to heal. Injury to the front and/or back lower ligaments of your ankle is a syndesmotic sprain. This often occurs from hyperdorsiflexion (pointing the toes up too far) and eversion (pointing the toes out).

Mechanism of Injury

  • A lateral ankle sprain is usually from inversion with plantarflexion (turning the toes in while pointing them down), a position similar to when your soccer player is kicking a ball on the top of the foot.
  • A medial ankle sprain is usually from eversion with dorsiflexion (turning the toes out while pointing them up).

There are 3 degrees of ankle sprains:

  • 1st degree involves minimal swelling, point tenderness, no ligament laxity, no limp or difficulty hopping. Athletes typically recover in 2-10 days.
  • 2nd degree has more swelling specific to the ankle, increased ligament laxity, a limp and your soccer player is unable to heel raise, hop, or run. Typical recovery time is 10-30 days.
  • 3rd degree includes a lot of swelling, tenderness on both the inside and outside of the ankle, even more ligament laxity, and your player cannot put any weight on the ankle. Recovery can be anywhere from 30-90 days. 

Signs and Symptoms

Lateral Ankle Sprain

  • Significant swelling within 2 hours because of the rich blood supply.
  • Tender to the touch over your athlete’s outside ankle ligaments, bruising that drains into his foot.
  • Different levels of instability (depending on grade).
  • Positive tests for ligament laxity of his outside ankle ligaments.
  • X-ray shows no signs of fracture.

Medial Ankle Sprain

  • Pain/swelling over the inside of your soccer player’s ankle.
  • Tender to the touch over her inside ankle ligament.
  • Bruising.
  • Positive test for ligament laxity of her inside ankle ligament.
  • X-ray needed to rule out avulsion fracture (bone fragment pulled away from the bone) or fracture of her inside ankle bone, or top of her ankle.

Rehab 2 Perform specializes in preventing risk to re-injury and empowering you with the tools to stay active. We serve the Annapolis, Bethesda, Columbia, Frederick, Gambrills, Germantown and Mt. Airy areas in Maryland. Contact us today at 1(301) 798- 4838 or schedule an appointment by visiting us here today. 

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