An ankle sprain is considered as one of the common joint injuries that can occur to individuals in all ages. Ankle sprains involve injuries to one or more ligaments that surround the ankle joints. The injury to the ligaments can range from mild, moderate to severe. You can enroll in a course on first aid so that you will learn the proper steps to handle an ankle sprain.
An ankle sprain generally resolves on its own but if incorrect treatment or significant injury or early return to an activity, there is the possibility of complications such as persistent swelling, prolonged pain, instability, stiffness and nerve dysfunction.
The persistent swelling of the ankle is triggered by various conditions usually from torn ligaments that did not fully heal or bone contusion that leads to the compression between the ankle joints as well as damaged blood vessels. The chronic swelling is oftentimes caused by synovitis which is the inflammation of the interior lining of the ankle joint capsules. The persistent swelling of the ankle joint is typically accompanied by low-grade pain but can sometimes occur without any pain at all.
The occurrence of prolonged pain is the usual complication of an ankle sprain. Even cases of severe ankle sprains must heal and free from pain after 8 weeks. If the pain persists, there is the possibility of an undiagnosed fracture, ruptured tendon or cartilage tear. The prolonged pain that occurs without any inflammation occurs primarily with nerve injury. The lasting pain frequently disrupts normal walking which can affect the joints in the hips, knees and lower back.
Stiffness is also another complication of ankle sprains and considered as an outcome of severe swelling or inflammation. The stiffness of the ankle can be accompanied by achy pain and can lead to diminished range of motion, especially during dorsiflexion. For many months, the diminished range of motion and joint dysfunction can progress to osteoarthritis which is diagnosed by the presence of bone spurs and reduced joint space on the X-ray result.
The instability of the ankle occurs once a sprained ligament heals in a stretched out position. This causes the ankle to become hyper-mobile and move in an abnormal manner. The instability produces a feeling that the ankle is about to give away and can be accompanied by persistent low-grade swelling and pain. Take note that the instability typically involves consistent weakening of the joints and greatly increases the risk for future ankle sprains.
Dysfunction of the nerves
Injuries to the nerves can occur with either a significant twisting of the ankle sprain or severe swelling of the ankle which adds pressure on the cutaneous nerves that surround the ankle. The symptoms include shooting pain, burning pain, muscle weakness and numbness. All of these are worsened by walking. The muscle weakness often causes re-injury due to the diminished coordination. Irregular proprioception can also occur which affects the stability and balance of the ankle and foot.