What is a Sprained Ankle?

Generally speaking, when you roll your ankle you can cause an overstretching injury to ligaments. This ‘overstretching’ can be deemed mild, moderate or severe. A mild may be a stretch, moderate a small tear & severe a rupture or complete tear. Severe ankle sprains can also cause avulsions (torn ligament from the bone) or fractures.

How do I get the condition?

The most common cause of injury for an ankle sprain is by rolling it on unstable ground. Other causative issues can be having a weakness in the muscles of the hip or ankle. Common example include awkwardly planting your foot during running, landing or jumping.

How long will it last for?

Treatment time varies from person to person. However on an average time will depend on the severity of the sprain. Mild (0-2weeks), Moderate (2-6 weeks) Severe (6 weeks ++).

What do I do once I have it?

Seek help straight away from a physiotherapist! Get an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan. Your treatment will go something like this:

  1. Protect the injury & reduce inflammation: 

    1. Rest from painful movements. You may be unable to walk on your ankle for the first day or two. If you are tender along your bones you may also want to get an X-Ray to check for a fracture. You may also need to immobilise your ankle in a boot, strapping tape & utilize some crutches to allow the ankle to settle.
    2. Ice for 15 minutes 3-4 times a day for the first 72 hours.
    3. Compression to help reduce swelling
    4. Elevation of the ankle above the heart will help reduce excessive swelling around the ankle
  2. Restore range of movement

    1. Protecting the injury should allow for a complete healing of the torn or ruptured ligaments. This may take up to six weeks. Following the protection phase it is important to work on restoring range of movement to allow appropriate scar tissue formation. Range of movement should be equal to the opposite ankle prior to progressing to the next phase.
  3. Restore strength & Neuromuscular control

    1. Your calf, foot, ankle and hip muscles will require strengthening after an ankle sprain. The strength required will depend on your level of prior activity. Your physiotherapist will guide you through this.
  4. Restore running, agility & landing ability

    1. During this phase you continue your strength work and complete an agility program. Your hopping and change of direction performance will be assessed. Once you have met certain criteria and passed specific testing you will be deemed ready to return to sport.

For any issues with Ankle Sprains please reach out! It is best to get treatment & diagnosis early to reduce the time frame of returning to pre-injury level.

Yours in physio,

Patrick Mcfadyen


See also