Ankle Sprains

Ankle Twisted Well done! You’ve taken the first steps to understanding and rehabilitating your Ankle Sprain! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. Recovery from your Ankle Sprain is crucial in order to achieve your goals and gain rapid and long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested that you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.

What is an Ankle Sprain?

A sprain, in its simplest terms, is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are fibrous structures that are used throughout the body to attach one structure to another, usually bone to bone. The ankle is required to be a fairly mobile joint, to allow us to walk, run, jump, swim and everything else we do with our lower limbs. The ankle consists of seven ligaments which restrict movement of the ankle moving past what is safe for it to do so, reducing the risk of damage to the joint, and to the muscles, nerves and blood vessels that cross it. Grading a Sprain Sprains of all types can be separated into three grades. A grade I tear is a minor tear, and involves injury of up to 25% of the ligament’s fibres. A grade II tear is a moderate tear, involving from 25-90% of the ligament’s fibres. A grade III tear is a severe tear, involving from 90-100% of the ligament’s fibres. A grade III tear may also be referred to as a “ruptured ligament”.

What caused my Ankle Sprain?

Ankle SprainThe most common mechanism of injury to the ligaments of the ankle is “rolling the ankle”, in which the sole of the foot rolls towards the midline, while the foot is slightly pointed. This movement, while under load, such as during a rapid change of direction, or walking down a steep hill, can place extreme stress on the Anterior Talo-Fibular Ligament, the most commonly injured ligament in the ankle, causing it to tear. A less common tear may involve the Anterior Inferior Tibio-Fibular Ligament, and the Posterior Inferior Tibio-Fibular Ligament. This condition is known as a “High Ankle Sprain” and would normally occur during a high impact where the foot is pressed rapidly upwards towards the knee. It is very uncommon to sprain the ligaments on the inside of the ankle, as these ligament are not only very strong, but also restrict most of the movement of turning the sole of the foot outwards.

How can you help me with my Ankle Sprain?

A detailed history, taken by your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, of the pain or injury can help to diagnose the injury, while a physical assessment of the ankle, knee, hip and surrounding structures, can determine the specific structure and the best course of action in treating the condition. Treatment will depend on the grade of the tear. For less severe tears, manual therapy and a graduate strengthening program will be needed to rehabilitate the ankle. Taping may be used initially to provide the ankle with support, to reduce the risk of further injury. In some cases, the ligament may be completely ruptured (grade III), and surgery may be required to reattach the ligament. In a grade III tear, it is still important to attend physiotherapy before and after surgery in order to speed up rehabilitation, and minimise the risk of long term disability.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Ankle Sprain?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain (this may include walking, during the acute phase of your injury), until you have seen a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician.
  • AVOID running or high impact activities, especially activities that require sudden stopping or changes of direction.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities, and activities that may put excessive amounts of pressure on the ankle.
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may help to reduce some pain and inflammation. Be sure to wrap the icepack in a towel, and only apply for 10 minutes every 2 hours. CEASE use if you have any negative reaction.
  • For RELIEF, keep a gentle compression bandage on the area, and elevate the foot to avoid increased swelling. Be sure not to cut off circulation to your foot!
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Ankle Sprain has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.  
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