Update on acute ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains are a common problem seen by primary care physicians, especially among teenagers and young adults. Most ankle sprains are inversion injuries to the lateral ankle ligaments, although high sprains representing damage to the tibiofibular syndesmosis are becoming increasingly recognized. Physicians should apply the Ottawa ankle rules to determine whether radiography is needed. According to the Ottawa criteria, radiography is indicated if there is pain in the malleolar or midfoot zone, and either bone tenderness over an area of potential fracture (i.e., lateral malleolus, medial malleolus, base of fifth metatarsal, or navicular bone) or an inability to bear weight for four steps immediately after the injury and in the emergency department or physician's office. Patients with ankle sprain should use cryotherapy for the first three to seven days to reduce pain and improve recovery time. Patients should wear a lace-up ankle support or an air stirrup brace combined with an elastic compression wrap to reduce swelling and pain, speed recovery, and protect the injured ligaments as they become more mobile. Early mobilization speeds healing and reduces pain more effectively than prolonged rest. Pain control options for patients with ankle sprain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and mild opioids. Because a previous ankle sprain is the greatest risk factor for an acute ankle sprain, recovering patients should be counseled on prevention strategies. Ankle braces and supports, ankle taping, a focused neuromuscular training program, and regular sport-specific warm-up exercises can protect against ankle injuries, and should be considered for patients returning to sports or other high-risk activities.
AuthorsJeffrey D Tiemstra
JournalAmerican family physician (Am Fam Physician) Vol. 85 Issue 12 Pg. 1170-6 (Jun 15 2012) ISSN: 1532-0650 [Electronic] United States
PMID22962897 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Review)
Chemical References
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries (rehabilitation, therapy)
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal (therapeutic use)
  • Athletic Injuries (therapy)
  • Braces
  • Cryotherapy
  • Humans
  • Sprains and Strains (therapy)

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