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Don't Run Into Trouble

Ankle sprains are common in sports, particularly during track season

SUNDAY, May 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- It's track season, and that means sprinters and other track and field athletes have to contend with the threat of ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains are the most common form of athletic injury and occur when the ligaments are stretched or torn, says the American Academy of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Bone structure and foot type can make some people more prone to ankle sprains. Symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of the sprain. In many cases, the ankle is tender, swollen and discolored. A sprained ankle can be painful to touch and walking ability can be impaired by an ankle sprain.

A Type I ankle sprain is the least severe and occurs when ligament fibers have been stretched or slightly torn. In a Type II ankle sprain, ligaments are completely torn. The most severe ankle sprain is Type III, where the entire ligament is torn and there's significant instability in the ankle joint.

Initial treatment of ankle sprain involves the RICE method -- rest, ice, compression and elevation. This promotes healing, reduces pain and decreases swelling around the ankle joint. Serious ankle sprains may require a person to keep weight off the injured ankle.

Most ankle sprains heal in three to eight weeks, but more severe sprains may require additional healing time to ensure ankle stability. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to chronic instability and problems with walking or sports. Such cases may require surgery to tighten or create new ligaments around the ankle to restore stability.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about ankle sprains.

SOURCE: American Academy of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
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