Many of my patients are surprised to hear that sports chiropractors treat ankle sprains. Some are even more surprised at how fast the healing takes place when a sports chiropractor treats an ankle sprain. While many people understand that chiropractors are experts at treating the spine, it is my hope that this article sheds some light at how sports chiropractors can care for all musculoskeletal injuries in a safe and efficient manner.
I recently had a high school baseball player enter my office the day after spraining his ankle. His ankle was sufficiently swollen and painful but did not have any bruising yet, meaning that the blood and edema was stuck at his ankle. In general there are two approaches to treating a sprained ankle; the first being the most common which is Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate (RICE method). Most sprains using that method heal in about 2-3 weeks. I prefer a more active method utilizing Active Release Technique (ART) in which my hands treat the affected tissue, in this case the injured ligaments, as well as the surrounding tissue while the foot is moved or moves in different directions. This creates a pumping mechanism and helps the blood and edema move out of the injured area. In the case of this athlete, we actually began to see bruising at the bottom of his foot during the treatment which was a good sign that we were getting the blood to move. Stagnating blood and fluid will elongate healing time so it is imperative that it moves out quickly when able to do so, while rest and ice will cause the fluid to remain in place. This player was able to play in a baseball game one week later.
Many patients are referred to chiropractors after getting into a car accident and getting whiplash which can cause ligament sprains in the neck and/or back. Sports chiropractors can then apply those same treatment principles and protocols to treat ligaments of the ankle, knee, elbow, hip, and shoulder with faster than average healing times. Some sprains do need more medical intervention such as surgery or bracing, but sports chiropractors are the perfect providers to treat grade 1 or “mild” sprains. In addition, many sports chiropractors have multiple ways to treat such injuries including ART, mobility exercises, stability exercises, and strength training. The next time you or someone you know suspects a sprain, come to a sports chiropractor and maybe we can save you some time and pain in the long run.