Ankle Sprains are extremely common particularly in sports involving jumping and change of direction such as basketball, netball and football. A sprain occurs when the ligaments are stretched beyond their limits, causing damage and tearing.
There are many types of ankle sprains depending on severity, from mild sprains to complete ligament ruptures and fractures. There can be many different ligaments and joints involved, whereby not every ankle sprain is the same.
Most commonly, the ligaments on the lateral side of the ankle are injured, however medial ankle sprains can also occur, as well as high ankle sprains (syndesmosis injuries).
Following an ankle sprain, you may have difficulty walking or weight bearing. Crutches may be necessary depending on the severity. In some cases a camboot may be required. There will typically be swelling and bruising around the ankle. Ice is usually required for at the least the first 24-48 hours, as well as elevation and compression.
Physiotherapists have the ability to assess your ankle to determine the severity and type of ligament injury you have sustained. Sometimes an X-ray, CT/MRI, or ultrasound may be required, often to exclude fractures or other pathologies. Your physiotherapist can refer you for these investigations if required.
For typical ankle sprains, physiotherapy consists of individualised manual therapy, tailored exercises and education. Physiotherapy aims to:
1. Reduce swelling, pain and inflammation
2. Recover ankle range of motion
3. Strengthen ankle ligaments and muscles
4. Improve joint proprioception and balance
5. Retrain agility and running
6. Assist with a gradual return to sport
Research shows that if you have sustained an ankle sprain in the past, you are more likely to sustain another ankle sprain, particularly if you have not engaged in treatment or rehabilitation. This can lead to chronic ankle pain, arthritis and instability longer term.
Physiotherapy can assist in reducing the likelihood of re-injury, as well as providing ankle sprain prevention programs.