Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments connecting the ankle bones are over-stretched.
The Ankle Joints and feet are the link between your body and the ground.
If you “roll your ankle” as the foot hits the ground you may sprain the ankle, damaging the ligaments and causing pain in the top of the foot.
Physiotherapists assessmentwill determine the severity and type of ankle injury. Your physio can then provide treatment to promote healing and recovery. YourPhysio will also provide strategies and exercises to prevent further sprains of the ankle and to enhance performance on return to sport.
The ankle joint is made up of four bones shaped to make the joint stable. Increased stability of the joint is provided by ligaments,which are bands of strong, fibrous tissue that guide movement and prevent the joint from moving too much. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments are over stretched causing ligament fibres and small blood vessels to tear. This leads to pain,bleeding and swelling.
As soon as possible after the injury,and for 72 hours after the injury, you should adopt basic first aid principles by using the RICER method and avoiding HARM which is outlined in First aide.
- Your Body Smart Physiotherapist will examine the injured ankle to determine which ligaments are damaged and to what extent they are torn, and can order an X-ray if needed, or refer you onto our network of GPs and Sports Physicians if more detailed investigations like an MRI are required.
- Early treatment will reduce pain and swelling. Even one treatment and advice can make a significant difference.
- Special techniques called mobilisation help to increase your range of ankle movement so that it is easier to walk and move the ankle. Mobilising the ankle also helps to build a healthy scar in the ligament.
- Your physio will show you exercises that are important to improve the strength of the calf and ankle muscles to compensate for the damaged ligament, and give some protection while the ligament is healing.
- Your physio will also teach you how to retrain your muscles to react quickly to changes in ankle position to prevent repetitive sprains.
- Your Physiotherapist will discuss the injury with you and estimate the time it will take to recover. The time to full recovery varies from only a week or so, up to a few months, depending on the severity of ligament damage. Remember that the pain and swelling subsides much faster than the time it takes for the ligament and muscles to regain normal strength. Returning to work or sport too early can delay healing and prolong recovery.
- Your physiotherapist can teach you how to do special ankle taping or fit you with an ankle brace so that you can return to activity earlier,while protecting the ankle from further damage.
Your physio can help you plan ways to do alternative training so that you maintain fitness and muscle strength while your ankle is healing.