Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprain

Acupuncture Treats Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is a fairly common condition where one or more ligaments attached to the ankle is torn. The condition can be debilitating to any individual due to its potential for immobilization or discomfort while moving around. Throbbing pain may be experienced when pressure is applied on the affected area.Ankle Sprain

The affected area needs to be carefully used and protected since exposing the injury to high weight loads or pressure might cause serious complications further incapacitating the patient. Acupuncture has been known to help alleviate the onset of pain and ease the inflammation of the ankle sprain. It has also been attributed to an increase of the cure rate leading the resumption of a patient’s normal activities. (Kim)

 What are the symptoms and causes of an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain is a condition wherein one of your ligaments of your ankle is stretched or torn. The ankle can be rolled inward resulting in an inversion strain. Rolling the ankle outwards results in an eversion sprain. Inversion sprains are much common and usually result in pain emanating from the outer side of the ankle. Pain coming from the inner side maybe a sign of a more serious injury to the ligaments or the tendons.

A hyperextension of the ankle during plantar flexion usually puts your ankle at risk of a sprain since this puts tension in the tendons leaving them vulnerable. Landing on an uneven surface, like stepping on another foot, can turn your ankle inward. If an ankle is hurt this way, two or three ligaments may have been compromised.

When experiencing an ankle sprain, blood will leak into the tissues around the joint. This leakage will cause the inflammation to spread into the area, along with the increase of blood flow and swelling. The nerves in the area also become sensitive causing much throbbing pain that worsens with the increase of pressure applied on the area.

Activities like basketball, tennis, soccer and volleyball  can put anyone at high risk of experiencing a sprain due to the sport’s requirement of explosive side-to-side motion. Returning to normal activities without waiting for the ligaments to heal might result in permanent deformity to the ligament, providing less stability to the ankle joint. This can increase risk of more ankle sprains in the future.

 How would a doctor diagnose and treat an ankle sprain?

A doctor will usually ask of a patient’s medical history, inquiring about the events leading to the onset of the injury. The doctor will also note of any previous ankle injuries to assess the risk of a reoccurrence of an old injury. The doctor will then perform a physical exam to check the foot and ankle. The patient’s lower leg and knee may be assessed as well to check for any collateral damage.

Your physician may require an X-rays for more serious forms of sprains. This is necessary to rule out any fracture in the ankle or foot. However, a fracture may also exist along with an ankle sprain. It is a precautionary procedure for doctors to immediately request for an X-ray when the patient is a child to assess any damage to the growth plates in the bones that support the ankle.

Doctors would recommend the initial treatment cocktail known as RICE: rest, icing, compression and elevation. This is standard treatment for any form of soft tissue damage which ankle sprains fall into. With this treatment method, the swelling is expected to subside in the next few days. For more serious cases, a doctor may recommend binding your ankle to a splint to protect and immobilize it. A doctor might recommend the use of an orthopedic walking boot or the use of braces and crutches if the patient requires some level of mobility.

There are severe cases wherein the ligament is completely torn off and might risk becoming a permanent disability or if the ankle remains unstable after rehab. A doctor may recommend surgery to reconstruct the tear or deformity from immediate usage while healing. Surgery, however, is always treated as a last resort when dealing with injuries like an ankle sprain.

Once the ankle has begun the healing process, the doctor may recommend a variety of ankle exercises that will focus on improving the range of motion taking advantage of the decreasing pain. Physical exercises for strength and flexibility may also be implemented for longer term injuries to assist in maintaining joint stability.

 How would an acupuncturist diagnose and treat an ankle sprain?

An acupuncturist will check your medical history for any past injuries that might be linked with the ankle sprain. The acupuncturist will perform a medical exam to determine any possible nerve, artery or bone damage. The Achilles tendon will also be checked for any signs of rupture. This physical exam will allow the acupuncturist to isolate the area that will require treatment.

Acupuncture has been known to improve the cure rates (Kim) relating to cases of ankle sprain. This is achieved by stimulating the body to release its natural anti-inflammatory agents to the affected area. The procedure will also provide pain relief through the release of endorphins.

When used in conjunction with acupuncture, moxibustion therapy has been shown to be more effective in treating an ankle sprain than conventional physiotherapy methods. (Tang) Moxibustion helps in the modulation of the affected area’s internal systems. This will aid in the ankle’s repositioning to its pre-injured state and help in shortening rehabilitation.

Bodywork modalities will aid in further improving your overall condition and may aid in the rehabilitation of an ankle sprain. Tuina or shiatsu massage can target the acupressure points near the ankle sprain to alleviate pain and promote healing. The procedure can induce these effects with a variety of techniques that will increase circulation to the affected area and remove any impediments to nerve, lymph or blood flow internally.

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