Delicate Body Parts: Ankle Sprains

How many times have you experienced or heard of “rolled or sprained ankles” that happen on a regular basis? There seems to be a stigma around ankles and their susceptibility to sprains. Many believe it is a normal occurrence and will carry on their entire life dealing with constant “rolled ankles” and never be treated for one. However, did you know that people who experiences multiple ankle sprains throughout their life actually lack a key aspect of awareness that can be addressed by a physical therapist and prevent ongoing sprains?

When someone sprains their ankle for the first time, initial swelling and pain occur with pain intensity being dependent on the severity of the sprain. The body attempts to heal itself and goes through its normal inflammatory healing process. Although this initial phase is good, it has secondary effects that cause ongoing ankle sprains if they go untreated. With inflammation, there is excess fluid in the ankle, this causes the nerve endings responsible for detecting spatial awareness to turn off. When this happens our proprioception and kinesthetic awareness – medical terms that mean knowing where you are in space- no longer function correctly. Because of this, our brain is unable to safely detect where our ankles and feet are in space without looking down. This causes a problem as we shouldn’t walk around looking down at our feet to make sure they’re stepping on flat ground! This not only makes us heavily reliant on our vision for stability which isn’t normal, but also makes us susceptible to accidents because we’re not looking up at our surroundings!

If you or anyone you know suffers from constant ankle sprains, let them know physical therapy can help them out!

Jennifer Santamaria PT, DPT
Performance Plus Physical Therapy
P: (619) 482-3000
F: (619) 482-3001

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