Sprained Ankle

Sprained Ankle

What is a Sprained Ankle?

The ankle joint is surrounded by many ligaments which help support the joint, and guide the correct joint movement during ambulation. But should you twist your ankle, and it become swollen and painful there is a high possibility that you have sprained the ankle joint. The word 'sprain' means that you have stretched or possibly torn fibres of a ligament surrounding a joint.

Most types of ankle sprains happen when you make a fast movement with your foot planted on the ground. The ankle may roll inwards or outwards, but the most common injury involves the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

The symptoms of a sprained ankle include immediate swelling over the injured area, an inability to weight bear normally through the affected leg, and after a period of time bruising may appear. Should the inability to weight bear continue then it may be necessary to visit a physiotherapist or doctor to rule out more severe injury such as a fracture.



Treatment for an Ankle Sprain

Initially an ankle sprain should be treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation (R.I.C.E.). See our page on sporting injuries for more detail regarding acute injury management. This can dramatically help reduce pain and swelling which occurs as a result of an ankle sprain.

It is then important to seek an appointment with a physiotherapist or other health professional to help determine a diagnosis and treatment plan towards recovery.

In the initial stages of treatment physiotherapy would aim to reduce swelling and bruising, by using simple massage, electrotherapy and exercise therapy to achieve this. It may also be necessary to strap the ankle to help aid instability during this acute injury phase. It is also important to be able to return to normal walking as soon as pain allows, as this allows the affected ligament to be used functionally. This ensures that normal stresses are placed on the healing ligament, meaning that new ligament fibres are laid down in the correct orientation.

Once the acute stage of inflammation has passed (7-10 days), it is then necessary to restore normal balance/proprioception to the ankle complex, and gain full strength in the surrounding muscles. This can be done by simple exercise therapy and normally involves home programme to ensure the exercises are done regularly.

The normal healing time for an ankle ligament can be anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. This does however depend on the severity of the ankle sprain. For further information on different grades of ligament strain please visit our page on Sprains and Strains.

Basic Ankle Taping

In this video you will be shown how to apply a basic ankle taping to help prevent ankle sprains. It is important if you are allergic to strapping tape that you visit a physiotherapist to determine the best method of strapping your ankle without irritating your skin.

Exercises for Ankle Sprains

Open this file to see commonly prescribed exercises for a simple ankle sprain. These exercises are not designed to replace an assessment and treatment plan from your physiotherapist, and should any of these exercises increase your pain you should stop these immediately and seek help from a physiotherapist.

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    Roslyn Physio 287 Highgate Roslyn, Dunedin 9010
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  • F: 03 471 8598
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