What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain or “twisted” ankle is a ligament injury occurring within the ankle joint.  These occur frequently in both sporting and non sporting situations.  The lateral (outer) ligaments of the ankle are the most commonly injured and usually occur when you “roll” your ankle.  Ligament damage can take several forms ranging from minor to major damage.

How is ligament damage classified?

Grade 1:  a mild sprain with no instability, mild stretching or tearing of the ligament, mild swelling, pain & loss of movement.

Grade 2:  incomplete tear of the ligament with mild instability, weight bearing is painful, moderate swelling and stiffness of the ankle, some bruising may be seen.

Grade 3:  complete rupture of the ligament with significant instability, very painful and an unstable feel to the ankle on weight bearing, large amount of swelling and bruising, ankle movement is significantly limited.

What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?

Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain, the usual symptoms will be pain, localised swelling, bruising, loss of range of ankle movement due to pain & swelling, and pain on weight bearing.

What can physio do to help with an ankle sprain?

Firstly your physio will assess the ankle to ascertain where the damage has occurred and to what extent.  The physio will be able to recommend the management plan to follow.

These recommendations may include:

  • Ice
  • Rest
  • Elevation
  • Provide suitable compression eg. The use of tubigrip bandaging
  • Teach range of movement exercises to maintain / regain movement in the ankle joint
  • Teach stretching, strengthening  and balance re-education exercises
  • May use modalities such as ultrasound or interferential therapy to assist in swelling reduction
  • May provide strapping tape to provide stability when returning to sport.

How long will it take to recover?

Return to activity can occur within 1-2 weeks for grade 1 sprain, 3-4 weeks for a grade2 sprain and 4-6 weeks for a grade 3 sprain with appropriate treatment.  However, this time frame will be extended if the sprain is not managed correctly.  Recurrent ankle sprains are often due to poor rehabilitation of the initial injury and poor proprioception.  If you are recurrently spraining your ankle you should seek advice from the physio to assess the cause.

What should I do if I think I have sprained my ankle?

Call  the physio at Back2Balance Physiotherapy to make an appointment on 3352 5311 for an assessment and advice