The ankle joint is very commonly injured in the active population. In sports such as rugby, AFL and hockey, an ankle sprain is the most common ankle injury. Ankle sprains are commonly referred to as a ‘rolled’ or ‘twisted’ ankle.
What is an ankle sprain?
Surrounding all our joints are ligaments that connect our bones and protect the joint by limiting excessive movement. An ankle sprain is when the joint is moved forcefully to the end of the available range and one or more of the ligaments gets overstretched, resulting in damage. There are 3 grades of ligament sprain; grades 1-3. These are diagnosed according to the severity of the damage, with grade 1 being minor damage and grade 3 being full rupture of the ligaments.
Types of Ankle Sprains
Mechanism of Injury
Most people sprain their ankle when walking and running on uneven surfaces or in sport when accidentally landing or standing on something, such as uneven ground or an opponent’s foot. The most common way to sprain an ankle is to roll onto the outside aspect of the ankle joint, causing a lateral ankle sprain.
Signs and Symptoms
The ankle will be painful, swollen and occasionally bruising will come up around the joint. It may be painful to take steps and the ankle is often reported as feeling unstable. In severe sprains people are unable to put weight through the injured foot.
Ankle Sprain Management
The first important step is to ensure that there is no fracture – if there is significant pain and an inability to place weight through the foot, then a visit to the hospital emergency department is recommended. Otherwise when your physio assesses the ankle in the clinic they will determine whether imaging is required and refer appropriately.
Of people who experience an ankle sprain and do not manage their symptoms appropriately, 70% will experience long lasting symptoms. Therefore, it is important to take your ankle sprain seriously. In a recent review of the literature, it was found that most management approaches are too short in duration, and unless treatment is tailored to the severity of the ankle sprain, most people will have lingering symptoms. However not surprisingly, having at least some treatment was more effective than a ‘no treatment’ approach in ankle sprain management.
Stages of Rehabilitation
Acute (approx. 0 - 10 days)
What to expect from us
Booking an appointment with us in the first few days post injury is very important to protecting your sprain appropriately. Then physio is important to complete the correct rehabilitation and get you back to activity safely and then reducing the risk of re-injury in the long term.
Your first physiotherapy appointment will involve:
If you have had multiple ankle injuries or experience chronic ankle instability, physio can help! The treatment is very similar to an acute sprain, without the initial care following after an acute injury.
If you have an acute ankle injury, want to reduce your risk of injury, or need advice on any of the above please do not hesitate to call us to book an appointment on 9970 7982, or alternatively book online.
Dijk van, C.N., Mol, B.W.J., Marti, R.K., et al. (1996). Diagnosis of ligament rupture of the ankle joint. Physical examination, arthrography, stress radiography and sonography compared in 160 patients after inversion trauma. Acta Orthop Scand, vol. 67, pp. 566-70.
Fong, D. T. P., Hong, Y., Chan, L. K., Yung, P. S. H., & Chan, K. M. (2007). A systematic review on ankle injury and ankle sprain in sports. Sports Medicine, vol. 37, iss. 1, pp. 73-94.
Kannus, P., Renström, P. (1991) Treatment for acute tears of the lateral ligaments of the ankle. Journal Bone Joint Surgery [Am], vol. 73, pp. 305-12.
Pijnenburg, A.C.M, Dijk van, C.N., Bossuyt, P.M.M., et al. (2000). Treatment for lateral ankle ligament ruptures: a meta-analysis. Journal Bone Joint Surgery [Am], vol. 82, pp. 761-73.