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With fall sports starting, a common injury seen by athletes is ankle sprains. This occurs when your ankle moves too far in one direction, stretching or possibly tearing part of your ligaments which help keep your ankle in place. Athletes may complain of hearing a pop, with pain, swelling, and bruising soon to follow. It may be hard or painful to move their foot in certain directions as well.
Most cases of ankle sprains can be treated with ICE therapy, elevating your ankle above the level of your heart, compression with an ace wrap or, and rest. Ibuprofen or Tylenol can be used to help control any pain they may have. If they are having troubles walking, crutches may be necessary for a few days. In more significant cases, a Splint may be needed to help support the ankle joint. Stretching may be beneficial after a few days to reduce joint stiffness and improve blood flow to the area.
There are times when you may need to be seen by a healthcare provider. If your athlete cannot bear weight on their ankle, if it looks obviously deformed, or if their ankle “gives out” on them while walking, they may need to be seen. In some cases, an x-ray may be necessary to make sure there is no fracture. Ankle sprains may take 4-6 weeks to recover, and some athletes have occasional pains for even months after. If they are prone to getting ankle sprains, it’s always a good idea to have them wear protective ankle braces or to have a trainer wrap their ankles before games or practices.