Ever rolled your ankle a funny way? Is it swollen, stiff or painful to walk on? Or perhaps you have had a previous ankle injury and it is still not quite right – Ankle Sprains can vary in location and severity and can have long term effects on your day to day life if not rehabilitated correctly! This article aims to explain the different types of ankle sprains and how physiotherapy can help achieve a full recovery.

What is an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains are the most common ankle injury and can occur from something as simple as walking on uneven ground. Ankle sprains refer to an overload injury to the ligaments that support the ankle joint. There are 3 main types of ankle sprains:

  • Inversion injury: Rolling the ankle inwards causing injury to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
  • Eversion injury: Rolling the ankle outwards causing injury to the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
  • High Ankle Sprain: occurs with more severe forces to the ankle causing injury to the structures that support the two leg bones.

Ankle sprains are graded based on how severely the ligament has been injured:

  • Grade I is stretching or slight tearing of the ligament.
  • Grade II is a larger but incomplete tear.
  • Grade III is a complete rupture of the ligament.

Signs and Symptoms

  • swelling
  • tenderness
  • bruising
  • pain
  • inability to put weight on the affected ankle
  • Stiffness in the ankle joint

How your Physiotherapist can help you?

Management for an ankle sprain depends on the age and severity of the injury. Usually the first 48 hours after spraining an ankle will follow the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation protocol to reduce inflammation and pain.

After this initial phase, the swelling should subside and the severity of the injury will become clear. Higher grade sprains will be treated firstly with a period of immobilisation with moonboot/crutches whilst grade I sprains may be managed with the RICE protocol.

Once the inital pain and inflammation is under control – Physiotherapy will focus on returning your ankle to its pre-injury function with focus on strength, range of movement, balance and high level activities (running/jumping). Your Physiotherapist will identify any deficits caused by the injury and use manual therapy and exercise prescription to help achieve your therapy goals in the shortest amount of time possible.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO: Seek advice from your Physiotherapist as soon as possible! We are here to help and answer any questions you may have.

DON’T: Ignore the problem or continue a painful activity after rolling your ankle – you may cause further damage.

DON’T: consider the injury is resolved when the pain or initial swelling is gone – Recurrent ankle sprains can occur if the injury is not rehabilitated entirely!