March Madness awakens many amateur Michael Jordans from their winter hibernation, as milder weather beckons them to dribble down driveways and shoot three-pointers in the park.
But as spring ushers in sports such as basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer, it brings a busy time of year for foot and ankle surgeons: ankle sprain season.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. Among NCAA basketball players, ankle sprains rank as the number one injury suffered by both men and women.
Anyone who injures an ankle requires prompt medical treatment, whether it's the first sprain or the fifth. Rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) can reduce swelling and pain until the ankle can be evaluated and treated by a foot and ankle surgeon. A sprain may not always be a sprain; the ankle could be fractured.
Many athletes develop chronic ankle instability from repeated ankle sprains, causing their ankle to frequently "give way." In some cases these players may require surgery. Proper rehabilitation of an ankle sprain reduces the likelihood of developing chronic ankle instability.
Players of all skill levels can reduce the risk for ankle sprains by following three tips from http://FootPhysicians.com, the consumer Web site of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS):
1. Perform warm-up stretches and exercises before playing sports.
2. Wear the right shoes for the sport. For example, don't wear running shoes for sports that involve a lot of side-to-side movement, such as tennis and basketball.
3. Wear an ankle brace if you're recovering from an injury or have repeatedly sprained your ankle.