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Ankle sprains – Treatment and Rehabilitation

Ankle sprains – Treatment and Rehabilitation

Have you ever twisted your ankle playing sport, walking on an uneven surface or landing awkwardly on one of many toys left out by your kids? An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries to the foot / ankle. People who participate in sports that require quick turns are most likely to suffer from one, however, anyone can be susceptible to an ankle sprain.

What happens if I sprain my ankle?

Your ankle is made up of many ligaments that connect your bones and help stabilise the joints. During an ankle sprain it can be these ligaments which are damaged. You can either roll your ankle inwards (inversion ankle sprain) or outwards (eversion ankle sprain). Most commonly an inversion ankle sprain is seen. This places a large amount of stretch and stress to the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Too much force through these areas can cause disruption to the ligaments structure.

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Initially your ankle can be painful to move and walk on and feel unstable whilst weight-bearing. Your ankle may begin to swell; this is the body’s natural inflammatory response trying to bring an influx of white blood cells for healing. With this increase in blood flow the area can also become red and warm. However, too much swelling or inflammation can be a bad thing, therefore it is important to manage the injury swiftly.

What should I do if I sprain my ankle?

  1. Decrease swelling / inflammation
    – RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
    – Anti-inflammatory cream or medication
    – Offloading – if painful to weight-bear
  2. Regain movement and range
    – Start moving your ankle – forwards / backwards / circles
    – Inflammation can restrict your range of motion, it is important to get your foot back moving so that full range can be reached quicker.
  3. Functional movement and stability
    – Exercises – regain strength and stability through your ankle
    – Exercise can include: calf raises, balance, hopping, landing single leg

The importance of treatment and rehabilitation

The need for proper treatment and rehabilitation is extremely important. If done inadequately, this can lead to poor long term results including decreased range of motion, extended time of pain and chronic instability. Furthermore, there is an increased risk of spraining your ankle in the future or overloading surrounding muscles and tendons to make up for instability through the ankle.