It can happen to anyone: you overlook a curb, trip over a root – and roll your ankle in the process. If things go particularly badly, the diagnosis can be an ankle injury that is referred to as “supination trauma”. Find out more about the condition, how supination trauma is treated and how a support can help the healing process.
What is supination trauma?
There is no shame in not knowing what exactly you are dealing with when your physician diagnoses supination trauma. Supination trauma occurs when the foot is twisted over the outer edge of the foot – in contrast to pronation trauma, which describes twisting over the inner edge of the foot. Both of these injuries can be very painful, depending on how much damage is done to the ankle joint and the surrounding area.
Supination trauma of the foot or, more precisely, the ankle joint, can entail a hyperextension of the lateral collateral ligaments, torn ligaments or even injuries to the bone, which cause bruising and swelling – especially if the sensitive joint capsule is also affected.
What happens to the ankle?
To explain what happens precisely, a closer look at the ankle is needed. The upper ankle conjoins several ligaments. They stabilize the joint by guiding its movement and restricting it to its physiological range of motion. These ligaments are elastic and can withstand stretching for short amounts of time without problems. However, if you twist your ankle with force, excessive strain is placed on the outer ligaments by the explosive rotation of the talus towards the inside.
You will probably be familiar with the outcome: a sharp pain shoots through your foot, which can last anywhere between a few minutes and up to several hours, depending on the severity of the injury. If you make the mistake to try and stand back on your foot, you will quickly realize that the pain comes back. Although the joint may be painful without the presence of swelling, in most sprains, it will swell up within a few minutes after the accident.
If blood vessels are also injured by the supination trauma of the upper ankle, hematomas, i.e. bruises, will appear. If your foot feels numb in case of severe swelling, the excess pressure may have also irritated vessels and nerves in the tissue.
How is supination trauma treated?
Whatever the activity during which you misstepped and twisted your ankle – a few simple first aid measures are now key. In the case of supination trauma, you should keep the RICE rule in mind:
- Rest: give your injured joint a break and don’t put any strain on it.
- Ice: cool the affected joint, best using a refrigerated cold pack. If you use ice packs, wrap them in a towel to avoid damaging the skin.
- Compression: the pressure provided by a compression bandage relieves pain and prevents excessive swelling.
- Elevation: the injured foot should be raised above heart level. This also helps to prevent further swelling.
Supination trauma in the ankle: diagnosing the extent of the injury is important
As a rule, all ankle injuries should be taken seriously. An incorrect diagnosis and treatment can cause secondary damage such as osteoarthritis (excessive wear of the joint). This applies not just to severe injuries, but mild ones, too.
Your ankle joint is swelling up massively and is purple in color? Do you have trouble moving it and feel severe pain? Then you are probably dealing with a torn ligament, rather than just a mild strain of the ligaments. One or more ligaments can be affected. If a ligament is torn completely, bone fragments may be fractured off, too.
Generally, you should see your physician or an orthopedic specialist following supination trauma. The specialist can guide the patient through single, carefully conducted movements to determine the areas of the joint that have lost their stability. This can often give an indication of the extent of the injury, for example whether the ligaments are just strained or have been torn. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to make a definitive diagnosis.
Can supination trauma be prevented?
In most cases, supination trauma is the result of a moment of carelessness. Rapid movements during exercise are the second most frequent cause. This means that your ankles are particularly at risk in all activities that involve quick and sudden changes of direction, such as fast-paced ball and racket sports (football, tennis, basketball). To avoid rolling your ankle, you should invest in a high-quality, well-fitting pair of shoes. A healthy fitness regime also helps to ensure that the muscles are activated quickly, minimizing the risk of injury.
If you want additional protection for your ankles independently of your choice of shoes and general physical fitness, an ankle support is the way to go. It snugly fits around your ankle, supporting blood flow and helping activate your muscles. On top of that, the massage effect of the support promotes your body’s proprioception. This means that your muscles and nervous system can coordinate your overall movement better and react to changes, such as a root in your way, faster.
Strengthen your ankle
Tip: Training proprioception helps to improve both active and passive muscle activity. This is a significant factor in reducing the risk of injury. The Bauerfeind Treatment App offers the suitable exercises to train and strengthen your ankle.
Reducing ankle pain with MalleoTrain
An ankle support, such as MalleoTrain, not only has preventative effects, but also provides support following injuries. MalleoTrain offers immediate pain reduction and relief. It stabilizes and mobilizes your joint, helping you get back on your feet faster. Find out more about the effectiveness of our Train supports and the Bauerfeind Treatment App to go with it.