Chronic Grade 1 and 2 Ankle Sprains: Treatment for Rapid Recovery and Preventing Recurrence

Ankle sprains are common and can be a severe set-back to daily ambulation, especially for the serious athlete. They are graduated based on severity: 1, 2, or 3.

Grade 1 indicates minimal circulation, minimal instability, and little change in range of motion (ROM).

Grade 2 indicates severe pain and instability that makes weight-bearing difficult.

Grade 3 presents complete functional loss with little to no ROM. This grade of ankle sprain requires x-rays and possibly surgery.

The common medical approach for grades 1 and 2 would include taping or bracing the joint for added stability, rest, ice, elevation when possible, and reducing inflammation with NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Tylenol or Aspirin). The patient can expect weeks of rehabilitation with a physical therapist or athletic trainer. This is the standard of care which I only recommend in the absence of a chiropractic applied kinesiologist.

For the serious athlete, getting better quickly is just as important as preventing recurrence. Being pushed or tackled can easily result in a sprain and disrupt the surrounding muscles, but frequently the ankle just "gives way," without an external cause. In this circumstance, there was probably a pre-existing condition of suboptimal muscle function. This means the muscle does not fire as strongly as when asked. It's not a muscle strength issue, but a miscommunication between the muscle and the brain. In other words, the muscles failed to stabilize the ankle, it buckled, and the last line of defense (the ligaments) were stretched and torn. Medical doctors and orthopedists may be familiar with the concept of muscle inhibition, but few know how to fix it. So, most time and effort goes to healing the ligaments by immobilizing the joint. Physical therapists address muscle strength and sometimes serendipitously help with muscle inhibition, but often after weeks of treatment. This can be a huge training setback, an added inconvenience, and a greater expense for the patient. Frequently, the athlete is released since the ligaments have healed, but once once more to re-injury because the muscle inhibition pattern remains.

It is not unreasonable for a chiropractic applied kinesiologist to facilitate return to normal activities within one week, even for a grade 2 sprain. Fixing the muscles gives better stability than braces or tape, and the natural pumping of the muscles flushes out cellular debris and lessens edema (swelling). It is advisable to take a good Cod Liver Oil containing EPA and DHA oils as well as bioflavinoids to speed healing time. Spinal and extremity adjustment, orthopedic massage, and acupuncture / acupressure with the proper nutrition will less pain, speed healing, and rapidly increase ankle function. For more information about applied kinesiology or to seek out a Professional Applied Kinesiologist, visit the International College of Applied Kinesiology online.