Q: My son sprained his ankle during soccer practice. Can he keep playing on it?
A: The common ankle sprain involves the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. Essentially, one or more ligaments are torn, and this can range in severity from a microscopic disruption to complete ligament discontinuity. Fortunately, the majority of these injuries heal well with conservative management. Treatment consists of the “PRICE” acronym, which stands for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The amount of time it will take to return to play will depend on the severity of the injury and the functional status of the athlete. An athlete should be able to accomplish certain movements (such as rapid acceleration and deceleration) without great difficulty and pain. I usually have my athletes complete a short course of physical therapy and use an ankle-stabilizing brace in order to prevent re-injury. Anyone who has had an ankle sprain is at a higher risk of having another.
L. Shay Richardson, M.D.
Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics
2415 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37404