Some folks might not be aware but in 2002, the FIFA World Cup was co-hosted by Korea and Japan. It was that year that Korea rose to fourth place; the coach of the Korean team, Guus Hiddink, became a national hero (he even got honorary citizenship); and everyone, I mean EVERYONE, was a “Red Devil” - a synonym for a soccer-crazed person shouting and jumping around in the street.
From the tone of my writing, I guess it isn’t that difficult to guess that I wasn’t one of them - some Koreans might be offended by this, but truly, I prefer walking, strolling around the park.
However, it’s quite often that I come across a person who is in love with this sport, and also quite often that I get to meet a patient with a sore ankle, and in worse cases a swollen and battered knee, after an aggressive game of soccer. In most ankle injuries (80 to 90 percent), it narrows down to one ligament, the ATFL (anterior talo-fibular ligament).
That is the ligament on the lateral side of your ankle. There are a lot of ligaments surrounding the ankle, surely, but when it comes to injuries, this tendon takes the cake. The ankle joint, when you move it around, tends to have a greater range toward downward and inner (e.g. inversion) movement. It is the ease of this position combined with the fact that the ATFL prevents the ankle joint from excessive movement of this kind that makes this ligament prone to injury, especially during sporting events.
The symptoms are quite obvious, and people with a sprain mostly know the exact time of injury. Swelling and bruising are common symptoms of the injury but not everyone has these symptoms. With a not so obvious sprain, you can self-examine by moving the ankle inside and downward - if you have pain, then you possibly have a sprain.
If you get injured, the first thing you should do is to apply pressure. If there is injury to the vessels internally, there will be bleeding, and you should stop the bleeding by applying pressure. Do not move the ankle joint, cool the sprained ankle, and then go to the nearest doctor for treatment. You can go to any hospital that specializes in orthopedic surgery, but you can also go to a rehabilitation medicine hospital for acute treatment (such as our hospital). The doctor will do a physical examination and then take an X-ray, ultrasound and, if needed, you can expect a few weeks of immobilization, depending on the severity of the injury.
You should bear in mind that the pain is the least important thing in this situation as repeated injury is common to people who did not manage the problem properly the first time. To prevent injuries, warming up and cooling down before and after exercise is crucial. One simple exercise you can do is to write the alphabet in the air, thinking that the tip of your toes are the end of a pen. It’s simple and quite effective.
Next time I will write about another common injury that is often found in soccer junkies.
Dr. Jay graduated from Korea University Medical School and underwent training at the Korea University Medical School Hospital. He specializes in Rehabilitation Medicine. This column will cover many subjects about which you may have wanted to ask a doctor, but didn’t have the time, chance or will to ask, as well as useful health facts.
Questions or inquiries to email@example.com will be discussed and answered by Dr. Jay, who is currently the chief executive of Everspring Hospital in Jeju.
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