The ankle and foot are responsible for balance, walking, running, and jumping. This region also supports the body's weight through normal daily activities. The ankle joint is formed between the 2 lower leg bones - the tibia and fibula, and the talus bone which is located in the foot.
Within the foot there are 26 small bones which provide strength and flexibility to the foot, enabling us to walk and run efficiently. Many different ligaments hold the bones of the foot firmly together at the same time as providing flexibility to the foot. Due to the number of bones and ligaments in the ankle and foot complex, this region is prone to injury. Any of the joints or ligaments within this complex may be sprained or strained during sporting activity.
Below you will find a list of common injuries which occur in the ankle and foot region. At Roslyn Physio we see many people with ankle and foot pain due to our associations with sports teams; in particular netball. It is important to ensure that you treat simple joint sprains effectively to prevent recurrence and more severe injury. The staff at Roslyn Physio can help ensure that you return to your chosen sporting or physical activity after your ankle or foot injury without any ongoing issues.
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.
Initially an ankle sprain should be treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation (R.I.C.E.). See our article Why R.I.C.E? 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.
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.