2 Critical Steps to Resolving Ankle Sprains

Efficient treatment of ankle sprains continues well after the pain subsides.  While the majority of inversion (lateral) ankle sprains heal relatively quickly, up to 1/3 of patients, continue to note symptoms at one year, and up to 25% report pain, instability, crepitus, weakness, stiffness, or swelling at three years. (1) Re-injury is frequent, with rates reaching almost 75% in sports, like basketball. (2) Successful management of ankle sprains and prevention of re-injury are predicated on a couple of fundamental principles.

Management of ankle inversion sprains requires two steps; each is equally important.

  • The first step entails the evaluation and treatment of acute pain.
  • The second step involves preventing subsequent sprains – and new research validates the importance of chiropractic care to improve clinical outcomes in these recalcitrant cases.

 

STEP 1—Move for Pain Relief

Early return to activity for acute inversion sprains is supported by the literature.  Exercises and treatments that promote joint motion and early return to weight bearing for acute ankle sprains have proven more effective than immobilization.  While grade III sprains (ligament rupture) may require immobilization, grade I and II ankle sprains should forego complete immobilization and instead focus on regaining full range of motion. In fact, early rehab and return to weight bearing will increase ankle range of motion, decrease pain, and reduce swelling sooner than immobilization.

In a study by Linde et al., 150 patients with inversion ankle sprains were treated with early motion and weight bearing. After one month, 90% of the patients treated with early motion and weight bearing demonstrated pain-free gait and 97% had increased work ability. (3) Early mobility exercises would typically include:

These four exercises promote balance and range of motion – specifically dorsiflexion, which is a key contributor to ankle injury. Patients who have lost an average of 11 degrees of dorsiflexion are five times more likely to suffer lateral ankle sprains. (4)

In office care should also include mobilization and manipulation for restoring function. Joint mobilization has been shown to decrease pain, increase dorsiflexion, and improve ankle function. (5) IASTM or transverse friction massage to the affected ligament may help mobilize scar tissue and increase pliability. Myofascial release may help release tightness or adhesions in the gastroc and soleus. (Side note: The FAKTR concept seamlessly incorporates all of these tools to produce top-tier outcomes.)

Knowing when to treat and when to refer is critical. Whitman’s clinical prediction rule identifies four variables to predict the success of manipulation and exercise for the treatment of inversion ankle sprains. (6) The presence of three out of four of the following variables predict greater than a 95% success rate for manual therapy and exercise:

  • Symptoms worse when standing
  • Symptoms worse in the evening
  • Navicular drop greater than 5 mm
  • Distal tibiofibular joint hypomobility

 

STEP 2- Prevent Re-injury

The second step is shorter and easier than the first.  The most crucial variable in the successful prevention of future ankle sprains is improving BALANCE. Balance training reduces the incidence of ankle sprains and increases dynamic neuromuscular control, postural sway, and joint position sense in athletes. (7) A study by de Vasconcelos et al. (2018) found that balance training reduced the incidence of ankle sprains by 38% compared with the control group.  (7)

Two of the most common exercises used for balance and proprioception include the single-leg stance exercise and Veles.  A simple explanation stressing the importance of balance training may be necessary to promote patient compliance.

Finally, encourage your patients start walking “normal” as soon as possible. As evidence-based chiropractors, we need to return patients back to their normal gait as soon as tolerable. Patients with foot and ankle pain will often favor a supinated gait in order to unload the soft tissues of the foot and arch in favor of their bony architecture on the lateral foot. The lateral column of the foot affords stability but at the expense of a very inefficient gait. Over an extended period, these patients may develop a Tailor’s bunion, i.e. 5th metatarsal head bursitis. However, in the case of ankle sprains, a rapid increase in activity may overload the metatarsal fast enough to cause a Jones Fracture. Return to normal gait will minimize these compensations.

 

Advertisements

Chiropractic and Neck-Related Headaches

Cervicogenic

A new study found that for patients suffering from a neck-related headache, chiropractic spinal manipulation cut the number of symptomatic days in half. Incidentally, the same study found that spinal manipulation proved to be more effective than massage for treatment of headache.

If you or someone you know suffers from headaches, check out this video to learn more about finding a solution.”

Pregnancy Related Low Back Pain

DSC_0033

Low back pain during pregnancy is quite common. In fact, between 50-75% of all pregnant women will experience low back pain. The pain is usually caused from rapid changes in weight, posture, gait and hormones.

The average woman gains between 20-40 pounds throughout pregnancy. This weight gain moves your center of gravity forward, causing your pelvis to tilt and your lower back to sway – placing excessive stress on the ligaments, discs, and joints of your spine.

Pregnancy-related low back pain typically starts between the fifth and seventh month of pregnancy, although a significant portion of women experience pain sooner. Symptoms often begin at the base of your spine and may radiate into your buttock or thigh. Discomfort is often aggravated by prolonged standing, sitting, coughing, or sneezing. Your symptoms may increase throughout the day, and some patients report nighttime pain that disturbs their sleep. The extremes of activity seem to contribute to pregnancy-related low back pain – with increased risk for both “sedentary” and “physically demanding” lifestyles. Patients who have suffered with back pain prior to pregnancy are more than twice as likely to re-develop back pain during pregnancy.

Be sure to tell your doctor if your symptoms include fever, chills, bleeding, spotting, unusual discharge, cramping, sudden onset pelvis pain, light-headedness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, calf pain or swelling, decreased fetal movement, or symptoms that radiate beyond your knee.

Unfortunately, pregnancy related low back pain occurs at a time when your medical treatment options are limited. Not surprisingly, over 90% of prenatal health care providers would recommend drug-free treatment, including the type of alternative therapy provided in this office. Studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation provides significant relief of pregnancy-related low back pain. Almost 75% of women undergoing chiropractic care report significant pain reduction with improved ability to function.

Most patients will also benefit from continuing aerobic exercise throughout pregnancy. The US Department of Health and Human Services advises that healthy pregnant women may begin or continue moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Women should not begin “vigorous” exercise during pregnancy, but those who were preconditioned to vigorous exercise may continue. Be sure to check with your doctor prior to initiating or increasing any exercise program while you are pregnant.

Be sure to take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or standing. You may find benefit by using a small foot stool to alternate feet while standing. Sleeping with a pillow between the knees in a side lying posture may help you to rest more comfortably. You should wear shoes with good arch supports. In some cases, your chiropractor may recommend a sacroiliac belt or pelvic support belt to help relieve your pregnancy-related low back pain.

Chiropractic for Acute Low Back Pain

316046269_1280x720

According to the European Spine Journal, Chiropractic care was proven to be an effective treatment for acute back pain (pain that occurs suddenly and is often more sharp and severe).

“The European Spine Journal published guidelines for treating acute LBP and Radiculopathy:

o Employ: Manual therapy, exercise, and patient education about prognosis, warning signs, and advice to remain active.

o Avoid: routine use of imaging, extra-foraminal steroid injections, acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and opioids.

If you or someone you know suffers from back pain, follow the proven advice and call our office today.”

Source: Stochkendahl, M.J., Kjaer, P., Hartvigsen, J. et al. National Clinical Guidelines for non-surgical treatment of patients with recent onset low back pain or lumbar radiculopathy. Eur Spine J (2018) 27: 60.