Ankle Sprains & Instability


Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries that people suffer from. They can occur when you twist your ankle or when you land on it awkwardly after a jump. Repetitive ankle sprains can lead to ankle instability, it can cause pain and make it difficult to walk or run.

Epidemiology of Ankle Sprains

Acute ankle sprains are when the ligaments that hold your ankle together stretch or tear. The most common type of ankle sprain is when the ligaments on the outside of your ankle stretch or tear. This type of sprain happens a lot. A study found that it happens in about 0.93 out of every 1000 times someone participates in a sport or activity. The incidence rate for acute medial ankle sprains and high/syndesmotic ankle sprains were lower, at around 0.06 and 0.38 per 1000 times someone participates in a sport or activity, respectively.

Most ankle sprains are lateral ankle sprains, meaning they happen when the ankle rolls outward. About 73% of ankle sprains are injuries to the anterior talofibular ligament, which is on the outside of your ankle. The other 25% of ankle sprains are medial (deltoid ligament) or high ankle/syndesmosis (anterior-inferior tibiofibular ligament or posterior-inferior tibiofibular ligament injuries), which means they happen when the ankle twists inward.

Chronic Ankle Instability

Chronic ankle instability (CAI) is a problem that can develop after an ankle sprain. This happens when someone keeps spraining their ankle, or when the ankle is unstable for other reasons. There is not much research on CAI yet, but we know that it often happens after someone has already injured their ankle once.

Ankle Sprain Prevention

There are many benefits to injury-prevention interventions that focus on musculoskeletal strengthening, balance, proprioception, and improved biomechanics. These interventions can help prevent lower extremity musculoskeletal injuries and help people recover from pain and dysfunction. For example, a study found that a warm-up program that includes stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises tailored to the sport of interest reduced injuries in elite male basketball players.

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