Originally posted here by Dr. Joseph Chorley, Sports Medicine Physician at Texas Children’s Hospital

Oh, don’t worry it’s just an ankle sprain. This is a phrase many people hear when playing sports – whether competitively or just for fun. However, if this injury happens, I doubt the players, coaching or medical staff during March Madness will be saying this!

Ankle sprains are the most common injury in basketball and are the cause for the most time lost to basketball players’ participation. Many players try to minimize the pain and problems associated with an ankle sprain so they can continue playing. This is a good recipe for turning a small problem into a larger one. If treated early and aggressively, players can not only get back to playing basketball sooner, but they have a greater chance of playing at 100 percent. If players try to push through, they will most likely perform at a lower level than their potential, be in pain and can cause more harm.

Any ankle injury that is severe enough that the athlete cannot put weight on their ankle should be evaluated urgently by a physician. Protecting the ankle is one of the most important treatments a player can do. The best advice I can give athletes is to try and prevent the injury from occurring. This can be done by preparing ankles for games by starting with range of motion and strengthening exercise. If injured, in addition to seeking medical attention, athletes should elevate their ankle, using ice and anti-inflammatory medicines which can improve the associated pain and swelling. Preventative measures can help the player progress to more demanding strengthening and balance exercises faster. Remember, timely treatment with the appropriate interventions could not only get an athlete back to playing faster, but can also help prevent reinjuring the ankle again and possibly ending up with “weak ankles.”

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