What is an ankle sprain?

A sprained ankle is a very common ankle injury. A sprain involves stretching or tearing of the ankle ligaments. The most common is an inversion injury where the ankle turns inward, injuring the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

The most common injury sustained in a sprained ankle is to the anterior talo-fibula ligament (ATFL). (See figure) If the sprain is severe there might also be damage to the calcaneo-fibula ligament (CFL) (See figure). In addition to the ligament injury there may also be injury to tendons, bone and other joint tissues, which is why it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of your ankle sprain. Severe ankle sprains may be associated with a fracture.

Ankle Sprain Treatment

Establishing an accurate diagnosis from the start is important. The treatment will be different if there are associated fractures or other injuries.

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) as soon as possible.

R is for rest. It is important to rest the injury to reduce pain and prevent further damage. Crutches may be needed if there is severe pain when putting weight on the injured side.

I is for ICE. Applying ice and compression can ease the pain and reduce swelling. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel immediately following injury for 15 minutes. Repeat this every 4 hours.

C is for compression - This reduces bleeding and helps reduce swelling. Elastic bandaging is excellent for providing support and compression.

E is for Elevation - Uses gravity to reduce bleeding and swelling by allowing fluids to flow away from the site of injury.

Protect the injured ankle with an ankle support. Tape can also be used during the rehabilitation phase to protect the joint and give proprioceptive feedback to the ankle to decrease further injury.

What we can do?

A sports medicine physician can assess the injury to establish an accurate diagnosis. Pain medications can be prescribed to help with pain and swelling.

Sports physiotherapist can help with:

Swelling reduction by compression, massage, or taping techniques. Prescribe a full ankle rehabilitation programme to strengthen the joint and help prevent future ankle sprains by improving balance and proprioception.