What Are Ankle Sprains?

Ankle sprains resulting from trauma or previous injury present in many different ways.

The treatment regime for ankle sprains differs considerably between patients. This is because the ankle joint has many complex structures and functions.

The best way to rehabilitate and resolve ankle injuries is to get a proper diagnosis by a professional in the field.

Ankle sprains are the most common cause of ankle injury and pain,  totalling 10-30% of all sports related musculo-skeletal injuries.

Simple day to day activities, such as walking on uneven footpaths or stepping down a gutter, can also cause ankle sprains. If you place your foot in the wrong position a painful stretch or tear to the ankle ligaments can occur. This is  likely  if you have chronic ankle instability from previous ankle sprains.

Majority result from rolling out (inversion) injuries, where the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are injured.

Rolling in (eversion) injuries are rare and require considerably more force to damage the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.

Ankle Sprains Severity Grading:

Grade 1:

Minor in nature, minimal swelling, minor pain and stiffness. Able to weight bear with little or no joint instability. No loss of tension in ligaments and back to normal activities within 1-2 weeks.

Grade 2:

A significant injury, often unable to weight bear, with more diffused swelling, pain and loss of  ligament tension. This grade of injury will take up to 2-4 weeks before being back to normal activities.

Grade 3:

A gross injury and disruption of ankle stability. Severe swelling and bruising, extensive ligament damage and multiple injuries. Will take up to 6-8 weeks to be back to normal activities.

Return to normal activities is assuming correct rehabilitation and treatment.

Ankle Sprains Snapshot

  • Commonly occurring
  • Can be very painful
  • Impacts exercise and training
  • Needs proper assessment and rehabilitation
  • If left untreated can cause ankle instability


Causes of an Ankle Sprains

  • Weak ankles.
  • Trauma.
  • Hypermobility.
  • Poor balance.
  • Inappropriate training surfaces.
  • High impact sports.
  • Non- supportive footwear.
  • Foot posture or gait abnormalities.


Symptoms of Ankle Sprains

  • Pain around ankle joint.
  • Swelling, bruising, heat may be present.
  • Limping on injured side.
  • Reduced range of motion or strength in ankle.


Treatment for Ankle Sprains

Immediate Treatment for Ankle Sprains Includes

  • Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (to decrease initial inflammation, bleeding and swelling).
  • Anti-inflammatory medication for pain if required.
  • Low-dye strapping.
  • Partial weight bearing, as soon as pain will allow to aid in rehabilitation.
  • Moon boot or non-weight bearing cast, if injury is significant.

Rehabilitation for Ankle Sprains

Unfortunately, some people with a history of repetitive ankle trauma do not progress well. They complain of persistent pain and ankle instability (depending on the grade of the initial injury).

This is a result of inadequate rehabilitation or sufficient treatment. A review or repeat of diagnostic test (X-ray, US) will likely be done. MRI, bone scan or CT scan will be the test of choice if there are any other suspected conditions or injuries impacting on the ankle.

Well Heeled Podiatry is experienced in diagnosing and treating acute and chronic ankle sprains and strains.

We will  send you for diagnostic imaging if required and provide you with an extensive rehabilitation program to strengthen your ankle and help you back to normal weight bearing activities and sport.

We have access to a range of allied health practitioners in our wellness centre, for a holistic patient approach to your treatment.

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