Ankle sprains are a common sporting injury. The mechanism of injury with ankle sprains usually involves stretching of the outside ligaments of the joint which happens when the ankle rolls inwards. Occasionally the inside ligaments can be injured too, when the impact is high or when the ankle is moved forcefully outwards.
People often ask why or how ankle sprains occur. Sometimes there is no clear reason. For others there may be an lengthy history of ankle sprains with ongoing ligament laxity. Other factors can include unsupportive shoes, uneven terrain, a lack of balance/proprioception, & weakness of the foot and leg muscles.
Types of ankle sprains
Most ankle sprains occur from an inversion injury where the ankle rolls in. The most commonly injured ligaments of the ankle are the lateral (outside) ligaments.
- These include the Anterior talofibular ligaments (ATFL), Calcaneofibular ligament (CFL)
- The ligament on the inside of the ankle is called the Deltoid ligament which is much stronger and more difficult to injure, but can be affected with more serious sprains
- High ankle sprains refer to injury to the inferior tibiofibular ligaments and syndesmosis which bind the tibia and fibula together above the ankle.
- A high ankle sprain is a much more debilitating injury, requiring a longer recovery time.
What does it typically feel like after an ankle sprain?
The mechanism of rolling your ankle is a clear indicator that you are likely to have injured it. Pain can vary a lot between individuals. Some may feel mild pain yet are able to continue walking on the foot. Others however are completely unable to weight bear or put pressure through the foot with standing. The ankle can appear bruised, swollen and painful to touch.
Initial treatment will include:
- Rest immediately post injury to allow the area to settle
- Ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours
- Compression bandage at ankle
- Elevation of the ankle
Ideal rehabilitation could involve progressive mobility, strengthening & stability exercises.
Depending on the severity of the injury, a rolled ankle generally takes 3-6 weeks to resolve enough to be pain-free. It also common to have poor balance following injury.
We strongly suggest that you seek Podiatry intervention if:
- You are unable to put weight on the affected leg
- Pain is not easing over the day/night
- Pain and stiffness are not improving
At Pod Fit we can guide return to sport with exercises to develop the stability of the joint. We will help you work towards getting back to sport quicker and in better form. This is particularly important in reducing the likelihood of repeat ankle sprains. We also provide activity specific footwear advice to ensure appropriate support, as well as custom flexible inserts.
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