Sprained Ankle’s are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. They can happen to everyone – whether you’re athletic or not.
It occurs when the ankle joint twists either inwards or outwards on landing.
Ankle injuries most commonly occur in sports requiring jumping, turning, twisting, and changing direction type movements. In most cases (80%) of people sprain the ankle by rolling it to the outside – which damages the lateral ligaments. This can easily happen simply by stepping on uneven surfaces and losing your balance.
The ankle joint is a hinge joint formed between the shin bones (tibia and fibula) and the talus (the bone at the top of the foot).
The joints are stabilised by a few ligaments on the outside of the ankle. These ligaments are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL). Out of these 2 ligaments, the ATFL is the most sprained ligament of the ankle, accounting for more than 80% of all ankle sprains.
The deltoid ligament consists of four bands – it’s a lot stronger and not as commonly sprained. However, if sprained the recovery is a lot more serious with a slower recovery timeframe.
Deltoid ligament sprains are an uncommon type of ankle sprain. A strain or tear of the deltoid ligament results from rolling your ankle inward (pronation). They account for 15% of ankle sprains.
Signs of an Ankle Sprain
The signs of an ankle sprain are very similar to that of a fracture. The management of an ankle fracture versus an ankle sprain is entirely different, which is why it is important that the ankle is evaluated by a physio as soon as possible. Some of the signs include:
- Inability to walk or weight bear on the injured ankle
Grading of Ankle Sprains
Sprains are graded on a scale of 1 to 3 (mild, moderate, and severe).
Management of a Sprain Ankle – Ice or Not?
RICE (Rest, ice, compression, and elevation) has been the standard of treatment for injuries for the last decade. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who sprains their ankle and doesn’t immediately stick an ice pack on it.
However, in recent years the RICE approach, particularly the icing component, has been challenged throughout medical literature.
While icing after an injury is generally used to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, inflammation is a normal component of the healing process. It is not uncommon for inflammation to last for several hours to many weeks following a serious injury.
Therefore, the concerned that using ice to block the normal physiological process during this time may result in delayed healing. Icing acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning the blood vessels to the area reduce in size, thereby reducing blood flow. Blood flow to an injured area helps to facilitate the healing.
Additionally, there have been studies that have shown the vasoconstriction from icing remains for extended periods of time, meaning that this lack of blood flow occurs for longer than just the time that the ice is applied.
A newer study, published in May 2021, investigated whether icing had any effect on pain intensity, swelling, or range of motion after acute ankle sprains.
The overall take-away was that there was no improvement on swelling, pain, or range of motion when compared with exercise alone.
Considering this, the management of ankle sprains now aims to restore range and function as soon as possible through rehab and strength work. Pending on the grade of the injury, the timeline of recovery will differ and influence the exercise choices.
How Do I Book An Appointment?
We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call any of these numbers to schedule a session:
- Precision Physio Concord: 02 9736 3950
- Precision Physio St Marys: 02 9623 2220
- Precision Physio Mt Druitt: 02 9188 2552
Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!
To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.