Sprained ankle or twisted ankle as it is sometimes known, is a common cause of ankle pain. A sprain is stretching and or tearing of ligaments (you sprain a ligament and strain a muscle). The most common is an inversion sprain (or lateral ligament sprain) where the ankle turns over so the sole of the foot faces inwards, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. An eversion ligament sprain is rare but can occur particularly with a fracture. This happens when the ankle rolls the other way, so the sole of the foot faces outwards, damaging the ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
The most common damage sustained in a sprained ankle is to the anterior talofibular ligament shown towards the front of the image opposite. This ligament, as the name suggests, connects the talus (ankle bone) with the fibula (smaller of the two bones in the lower leg). If the sprain is severe there might also be damage to the calcaneofibular ligament (connects the heel bone to the fibula) which is further back towards the heel. This ligament only becomes injured in more severe injuries due to its increased strength and laxity whilst the toes are pointed (a common position for ankle sprains).
Symptoms for Sprained Ankles
Grade 1 sprain:
- Some stretching or perhaps minor tearing of the lateral ankle ligaments.
- Little or no joint instability, mild pain.
- There may be mild swelling around the bone on the outside of the ankle.
- Some joint stiffness or difficulty walking or running.
Grade 2 sprain:
- Moderate tearing of the ligament fibres.
- Some instability of the joint.
- Moderate to severe pain and difficulty walking.
- Swelling and stiffness in the ankle joint.
- Minor bruising may be evident.
Grade 3 sprain:
- Total rupture of a ligament.
- Gross instability of the joint.
- Severe pain initially followed later by no pain.
- Severe swelling.
- Usually extensive bruising.
Treatment of a Sprained Ankle
- Immediate First Aid for a sprained ankle is to aim to reduce the swelling by RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
- later stages Range of motion exercises such as ankle circles can help to get the ankle moving again,
- reducing swelling by keeping the leg elevated.
- gently stretching the calf muscles can also help to maintain movement at the joint.
Our sports therapy can include:
- Reduce swelling by devices or taping techniques.
- Use ultrasound or laser treatment to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Promote healing and circulation in the injured tissues.
- Use cross friction massage to promote healing and reduce scar tissue development.
- A full ankle rehabilitation programme to strengthen the joint and help prevent future ankle sprains.