Ankle Sprains and Therapeutic Ultrasound
Ankle sprains are very common injuries in all types of sports and every day life. When someone sprains their ankle, they have injured the ligaments that support the ankle. The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion sprain, where the foot turns inward. The opposite would be an eversion sprain, where the foot turns outwards, but this does not happen very often because the ankle does not have very good range of motion in that direction.
With an inversion sprain, the most commonly injured ligament in the ankle is the Anterior-Talo-Fibular ligament, which connects the talus and fibula; the second most common injury occurs at the calcaneo-fibular ligament. These two injuries cause pain on the outside of the ankle and foot. With an eversion sprain, the ligament that’s often injured is the Deltoid ligament and this causes pain on the inside of the foot.
As with any sprain, there are several degrees of severity and each one can be classified as follows:
• First degree sprain: minor ligament fibers are damaged causing minor pain
• Second degree sprain: extensive ligament damage with swelling, decrease in range of motion
• Third degree sprain: complete tear of a ligament with swelling and bruising, lack of range of motion
The first 3 days after an ankle injury are crucial to bring down the swelling and initiate the healing process. The standard protocol to follow is PRICE – protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. After those 3 days, ultrasound therapy is effective in accelerating the healing process and getting the person back on their feet. Through the use of sound waves, the circulation in the ankle improves and this in return helps to get toxins out of the joint and reduces swelling. After the swelling and pain have decreased, continue using ultrasound to break up any adhesions/scar tissue that may have formed. Once there is improvement in range of motion, swelling, and pain, passive and active range of motion exercises should be started.