A sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments without any joint displacement (dislocation). The injury can range from straightforward over-stretching (mild sprain) to total rupture (severe sprain) via tearing of a few fibre bundles (moderate sprain). Ligaments join two bones together to form a joint. They are composed of several fibre bundles and are not very stretchy. Following a trauma (impact, contrary movement), the joint can be forced into a position that goes beyond its natural range of motion, leading to a painful injury. A mild sprain is also called a "strain" or a "twist".
An ankle sprain is an injury affecting one or more of the ligaments in the ankle joint: lateral collateral ligament, medial collateral ligament, talofibular ligament. The most common sprain involves the lateral collateral ligament. This can occur during a variety of sports activities (basketball, running) or simply while walking in unsuitable footwear (high heels). The foot twists inwards, while the leg remains in place. The body's whole weight is placed on the twisted ankle and the ligaments are stretched beyond their limits, leading to a sprain. Beware since an ankle sprain may sometimes be accompanied by a malleolar fracture.
Ankle supports and stabilising ankle braces have a number of therapeutic effects, ranging from alleviating pain (analgesic effect) to healing of the ligament(s). The ligaments are rested and are no longer subject to the excessive mechanical stresses caused by walking or incorrect movements. Unlike ankle supports (made of elastic fabric), stabilising ankle braces are rigid and are designed for more severe sprains. As for ankle supports, these secure the joint, increase awareness, improve sensations and muscle performance (only in the event of traumatic damage). Wearing an ankle support may also be recommended as a preventive measure when resuming a sports activity following an injury.
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