I rolled my ankle and it hasn't been the same since! Why!?

5 min read

We've all experienced the sudden misstep or awkward landing that leaves us wincing in pain. Ankle injuries, particularly rolls, are among the most common mishaps in our day-to-day lives. However, what many may not realize is that even after the initial pain subsides, the aftermath can linger due to a variety of factors. In this blog, we delve into the reasons why a rolled ankle might never fully recover and explore the crucial aspects of ligament healing, biomechanical issues, and rehabilitation that often go overlooked.

Ligament Healing and Scar Tissue

Research has shown that the healing process of ligaments, the tough bands connecting bones at joints, is a complex journey. The initial stages involve inflammation, followed by the formation of scar tissue to bridge the gap between torn ligament fibers. While this scar tissue is essential for holding the structure together, it comes with a downside – it lacks the elasticity and strength of the original ligament.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the formation of scar tissue during ligament healing is inevitable and can impede the restoration of full functionality. The study highlights that scar tissue is not a perfect replacement for the original tissue, leading to a reduction in the overall strength and flexibility of the ligament. So in many ways, your ankle will never be the same from a purely structural stand point. However, we canincrease the function of your body and lower limbs to help overcome the structural weakness in your ankles.

Biomechanical Issues

Rolling an ankle is often a consequence of biomechanical issues, such as poor foot posture, muscle imbalances, or irregularities in gait. Failing to address these underlying problems can contribute to recurring ankle injuries and hinder the complete recovery of the affected joint.

Individuals who experience frequent ankle rolls might be dealing with altered biomechanics that make them more susceptible to such injuries. This emphasizes the importance of seeking professional advice to identify and rectify these issues to prevent future incidents. For example, there may be underlying issues wih your bodies ability to rotate through the thorax or hip's which may may be predisposing you to ongoing ankle sprains.

Tissue Healing Time Frames

Understanding the time frames associated with tissue healing is crucial for managing expectations during recovery. Ligaments, being relatively avascular structures, have a slower healing process compared to muscles. While the initial acute phase may last a few weeks, the overall healing of ligaments can extend to several months with Grade 3 tears sometimes taking up to 12 months to heal properly.

Neglecting the prescribed rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.) protocol during the acute phase can delay the healing process and increase the likelihood of long-term issues. It's essential to be patient and adhere to the recommended rehabilitation timeline to allow the ligaments to regain their strength gradually. More often than not, people confuse the lack of pain with the injury being healed. An absence of pain doesn't necessarily mean that complete healing has taken place and returning to sport or activity too early often increases the risk of future injury due to inadequate tissue healing.

Incomplete Rehabilitation

One common pitfall in ankle injury recovery is the failure to complete a full rehabilitation program. Many individuals may resume normal activities once the pain subsides without addressing the underlying weaknesses and imbalances that contributed to the initial injury.

A comprehensive rehabilitation program should include exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and proprioception – the body's awareness of its position in space. Neglecting any aspect of this process can leave the ankle vulnerable to future injuries and prevent it from regaining its full potential.

Rolling an ankle may seem like a minor inconvenience at first, but the aftermath can be far-reaching if not addressed properly. Ligament healing, biomechanical issues, tissue healing time frames, and rehabilitation play pivotal roles in determining the ultimate fate of an injured ankle. By understanding and addressing these factors, individuals can increase their chances of a complete recovery and reduce the likelihood of lingering issues. Remember, taking the time to heal properly today can save you from chronic pain and limitations in the future.

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