The most common injuries in volleyball are ankle injuries and ankle sprains occur more often than any other injury. A sprain is an injury that affects the ligaments in the ankle. You have multiple ligaments in your ankle and these work to hold the ankle bones together. They also work to protect your ankle from abnormal movements, such as excessive turning, twisting and rolling. These elastic ligaments are meant to stretch, but when they are stretched too far, a sprain occurs. There are three different grades of a sprain: a grade one sprain is just some slight stretching; a grade two sprain means that the ligament is partially torn; and a grade three sprain means that the ligament is completely torn.
Signs and Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle
The signs and symptoms you experience ultimately depend on the grade of sprain you are dealing with. All grades cause swelling, pain and bruising of the affected ankle. How severe these symptoms are will depend on the grade, but even with a grade one sprain they can be quite painful for some people. In some cases, a fracture of one of the bones in the ankle occurs along with a sprain and this can cause more pain, swelling and bruising, as well as instability of the ankle joint. Difficulty walking and joint stiffness are also possible with all ankle sprain grades.
Treating a Sprained Ankle
As soon as a sprain is suspected you must immediately get off of the affected ankle and stop putting weight on it. Have someone help you to walk or use crutches to get to a place where you can sit down. Use an ACE wrap to apply compression to the affected ankle and then apply ice to aid in reducing swelling and pain. Elevate the affected ankle and visit a doctor to determine the severity of the injury. With a grade one sprain, these may be all that is necessary to fully treat a sprained ankle and it will fully heal within a week or two. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help to alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation.
For grade two and grade three ankle sprains, time, immobilization and therapy are often necessary to get you back on your feet. In some instances, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage and ensure optimal range of motion and joint stability. When surgery is necessary, either reconstruction or arthroscopy may be performed, depending on what your surgeon thinks is necessary. The reconstruction procedure uses sutures, or sometimes tendons or ligaments from elsewhere in the body, to repair the damaged ligament and offer optimal stability to the joint. Arthroscopy looks to clean up any cartilage or bone fragments that are causing problems. After surgery you will need a rehabilitation program to restore strength, stability and range of motion in the affected ankle. How long rehabilitation takes will depend on the surgery you had done, the extent of the damage to your ankle and how well you are healing from surgery.