Beware its "just an ankle sprain"
Ankle sprains are common injury that we see in Physiotherapy.
Ankle sprains occur when the foot in forced into a position beyond the limit of supporting ligaments. This is common in sport but can occur from missing a step or falling down a curb.
Lateral ankle sprains are the most common where the foot is forced inwards (into inversion). Medial ankle sprains occur when the foot is forced outwards (into eversion) and high ankle sprains when the foot is rotated.
Ankle sprains are graded based on the severity of injury. In a grade 1 sprain less than 10% of ligament fibers are damaged. There is sometimes mild swelling and bruising but most people return to full activity in 4 weeks. In a grade 2 sprain 10-50% of fibers are damaged and the foot may feel unstable with walking. In a grade 3 sprain 50-100% of fibers are damaged and you may not be able to put weight through the foot. Healing time is usually around 12 weeks, but can be more.
So what is the best course of action if you have suffered an ankle sprain?
If you have severe pain, are unable to walk or have significant swelling you may have fractured one of the bones so an X-ray may be needed as management is different.
For most ankle sprains ice, compression and elevation can help reduce pain and swelling over the first few days. It is important to continue to move the ankle so that it does not become weak or stiff, but this should be as pain allows.
Rehab is then important to restoring normal function but also preventing future ankle sprains (one in five people suffer a further ankle sprain within one year). Rehab in the initial stage will involve improving walking, movement, strength and balance. Exercises should become more challenging as the injury heals and a graded return to running and sports demands planned.
So beware the common ankle sprain- reoccurrence rates are high and chronic ankle instability is real. We highly recommended assessment with a physiotherapist to discuss and plan the right rehab for you.