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Anna Kournikova, Tennis Player

DIAGNOSIS

Often, the ankle is tender, swollen, and discolored. Walking may be difficult, depending on the severity of the sprain.

The physician examines the ankle to identify the type of ankle sprain and determine the appropriate method of treatment. Ankle sprains are classified by "types" and range from mild to moderate to severe. A type I ankle sprain, the least severe, occurs when ligament fibers have been stretched or slightly torn.

Type II sprains occur when some of these fibers or ligaments are completely torn. In type III sprains, the entire ligament is torn, and there is significant instability of the ankle joint.

Classifying ankle sprains helps the physician diagnose the specific structures involved in the injury. This also helps determine appropriate treatment plans for each type of ankle sprain. X-rays of the ankle and foot are often used to rule out bone fractures, dislocations, or joint instability. Sometimes, the physician may recommend computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if he or she wants more detailed views of the bone and soft tissue around the ankle joint.

PREVENTION

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following to help reduce ankle injury risk:

  • Warm up before any sports activity, including practice.
  • Participate in a conditioning program to build muscle strength.
  • Do stretching exercises daily.
  • Never run when experiencing pain in the foot or ankle.
  • Wear protective equipment appropriate for that sport.
  • Replace athletic shoes as soon as the tread or heel wears out.
  • Wear properly fitting athletic clothes and equipment.

RECOVERY

Most ankle sprains heal in three to eight weeks. In more severe cases, ligaments may require more healing time to promote ankle stability. Repeated ankle sprains may cause chronic instability, interfering with walking or sports activities.

LONG-TERM OUTLOOK

Kournikova missed the Italian Open tournament in Rome that started on May 15th. She hopes to recover enough to play in the French Open beginning Monday.

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