Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries occurring in sports and day to day life (Lötscher & Hintermann, 2014) and can affect your walking, sleeping and sport performance.
When you take up to 10,000 steps a day it’s easy to forget how much we rely on our ankles mobility and stability to walk, jump, run, ride and play. Our ankles absorb and translate our body weight in every step we take to facilitate smooth movement and get us from A to B pain free. So, when the stability around our ankle is compromised by a sprain, frustration is just one of the side effects going ‘foot in foot’ with that painful limp.
How do I know if I have an ankle sprain?
The most common way to sprain your ankle is by rolling it when stepping off a small ledge or not seeing that divet in the grass. It is more common to sprain the ligaments on the outside of your foot by rolling the ankle down and inwards. Your immediate pain might be followed by swelling, brusing and stiffness.
If you feel like your ankle is unstable or have difficulty walking you should see your physiotherapist for an assessment to determine the severity of your sprain and the best management going forward.
What can I do if I think I’ve sprained my ankle?
As with any injury, apply first aid principles in the first 24 hours to reduce swelling and pain, including giving your ankle plenty of rest, using ice to reduce pain and elevating your ankle for that swelling and stiffness. Visit a physiotherapist for advice about what to do to ensure a speedy recovery. Your physio might use some hands-on techniques to reduce swelling and stiffness, and can even provide or advise you on an ankle brace, boot or crutches to use to allow your ankle to heal as quickly as possible. If your physio suspects a more severe ankle sprain they might recommend having an X-Ray or ultrasound done to identify if there have been any bony fractures or more severe ligament tears.
Are there any long-term consequences after spraining my ankle?
Research has shown that people who sprain their ankle once are likely to sprain it again in the future if they do not follow up their initial injury with the right rehabilitation and exercise program (Willems et.al 2002). This is because your ankle is so important for stability and balance and a sprain can interrupt the balance receptors that exist around your ankle joint that are normally active with every step you take
A physiotherapist can provide you with the right therapy and exercise program to make sure your risk of future sprains is reduced and you can go back to the pain-free lifestyle you enjoy!
For a consult with one of our friendly physios you can book online HERE or call us on 9939 3155.
Lötscher, P., & Hintermann, B. (2014). Medial Ankle Ligament Injuries in Athletes. Operative Techniques In Sports Medicine, 22(4), 290-295. http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.otsm.2014.09.009
Willems, T., Witvrouw, E., Verstuyft, J., Vaes, P., & De Clercq, D. (2002). Proprioception and Muscle Strength in Subjects With a History of Ankle Sprains and Chronic Instability. Journal of Athletic Training, 37(4), 487-493