Caring for an ankle sprain is important for the short term to allow yourself quick return to normal activities. It is also important in the long term. Poor ankle stability can lead to not only a worse ankle sprain and ankle instability, but also arthritic changes over a lifetime. If an ankle is not able to move correctly, due to a joint restriction or instability, then bones may rub over each other in ways that they were not meant to and produce unnecessary wear and tear. This excessive stress can lead to stiffness, formation of painful bone spurs and even lead to further injuries involving the knee, hip, and back.
If your ankle has been sprained and ligamentous stability has been compromised, then it is common for an ankle to over-pronate, or have a loss of arch height. This means that the mid foot collapses to the ground and the heel slants inward. This has a big effect on how things move up higher in the kinetic chain, all the way up to the spine. The mid-foot pronation, in turn, rotates the tibia (shin bone) inward. This allows the kneecap to turn inward, instead of straight ahead, causing uneven loading forces throughout the kneecap and puts increased torsional stresses in the knee. Possible outcomes of this are meniscus tears, patellofemoral pain, MCL and ACL tears, just to name a few. The inward rotation of the knee can then be traced up to inward rotation of the hip. Improper mechanics of the hip can lead to a multitude of symptoms, which includes anterior hip impingement, bursitis, and hip arthritis. Hip abnormalities can then lead to SI and back pain. Having a flat foot might not seem so bad in standing or sitting, but when you put it all into motion in an activity such as walking, the whole system becomes similar to an unstable tower of wobbly blocks. A slight correction in one direction means and over correction of another joint in the chain and inevitably more wear and tear.
A physical therapist is specifically trained to see the relationships in how all these body parts move together. They can identify the culprit(s), helping answer the question of ‘why’ an area hurts, when in fact the reason is an issue happening somewhere else in the kinetic chain.
Sometimes it can all be traced back to a simple sprained ankle.