Lady in pain holding her leg | Featured image for Acute Ankle Sprain.

Ankle sprain 

Ankle sprain is a common injury. In most cases, it is an inversion injury (when you roll your foot outwards) but it can also be an eversion sprain (when you roll your foot inwards). This injury usually occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle while landing on your foot in an awkward way. It usually results in injuries to the ankle ligament(s), which can be classified into a slight, partial or complete tear.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain, especially when you are putting weight through the injured foot
  • Tenderness and pain when you touch the ankle
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Swelling, redness and heat
  • Bruising
  • Instability in the ankle, especially during walking
  • Popping or snapping sensation or sound at the time of the ankle injury

What are the major risk factors to ankle sprain?

  • Previous episodes of ankle sprains, which led to laxity in ligaments
  • Uneven surfaces during walking or running
  • Poor muscle strength or flexibility in the ankles
  • Participating in sports with a lot of turning or twisting of the foot during landing from jumping (soccer, basketball, or tennis etc.) or contact sports where players might step or land on your foot during the activity (for example, rugby)

What can I do at home to help with the pain and swelling after I sprain the ankle?

  1. Follow a PRICE protocol
  • (P) Protection: avoid activities that may lead to further pain or/and injury
  • (R) Rest: rest for the next 24-48 hours after the injury, can use crutches to offload the affected ankle if there is a high level of pain during walking or activities
  • (I) Ice: apply ice to the injured area for 15-20 minutes, 3 times daily to reduce the swelling and redness
  • (C) Compression: can apply compression bandage to control the swelling
  • (E) Elevation: elevate your ankle above the level of the heart

2. Perform a gentle active range of motion exercises with your toes and ankle to prevent stiffness from developing and at the same time, it can help to improve local circulation and encourage fluid return to minimise swelling

3. Once the pain and swelling settle down after 1-2 weeks, you can start your strengthening, balance and range of motion exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist with or without a tape/brace depends on your preference and the severity of the injury. 

How can your physiotherapist at refine help you with the injury?

  • A thorough subjective and objective assessment to identify the condition and severity of the injury
  • Objective assessment will include palpation and testing of range of motion, muscle strength, ligament and bone, as well as balance, proprioception and your agility
  • Your physiotherapist will provide treatment including joint mobilisations, hands on muscular releases, ultrasound, taping, advice regarding movement patterns/posture/recovery time frame and future injury prevention protocol.
  • In addition, you will also be given individualised exercise program targeting at increasing strength, balance and agility based on the clinical findings from the assessment to prevent future episode of ankle sprains.
  • If you are very keen to return to sports, your physiotherapist will be able to give you a suitable advice regarding timeframe, and provide you with an appropriate graded return to sports program.