Ankle sprains may occur during sport activities but are also common during walking or hiking. In most cases only the ligaments are damaged. Fractures around the ankle joint are rather rare. If an ankle ligament is only overstretched, partially torn, or even completely torn it cannot be defined only by pain. Sometimes an overstretched ankle ligament can be more painful than a tear.

Symptoms Of Ankle Sprain/Sprained Ankle

Pain and swelling, bruising around the ankle, and pain under pressure are usually clear signs of a partial or complete rupture of the ankle ligaments. The range of motion of your ankle will be greatly compromised due to the pain and swelling. Putting weight on the injured ankle might be very painful or even not possible. For most ankle sprains, it is recommended that you seek a doctor for medical advice and treatment.

Ankle Sprain Treatment

First Aid & Immediate Care

  • As immediate first aid you should apply RICE. Rest, Ice Pack, Compression, Elevation.
  • Stop immediately with your sport or activity and avoid putting weight on the foot for a few days.
  • Keep your foot elevated for the first 48 hours and try to cool down the swelling every 3 hours for 20min.
  • Apply a compression bandage to prevent excessive swelling of the ankle.

Further Sprained Ankle Treatment

Once the pain has subsided you have to start with a light exercise program. Aqua jogging or light jogging on the treadmill, the elliptical walker and the stationary bike are good exercises to build up the load capacity while avoiding future ankle injuries.

Don’t make the mistake of getting back to your regular training program as soon as you are pain free. Lack of stability and load capacity can lead to overloading and chronic foot problems. Use an ice compression if the swelling comes back.

Your physiotherapist will be able to give you the right exercises and recommendations on activities at all stages of your recovery. This will ensure a smooth recovery from your injury without any setbacks.

Minimise The Risks Of Recurrent Ankle Injuries

Of course, you can’t completely eliminate the chance of a recurrent ankle sprain unless you avoid all activity (take up chess perhaps?). But with specific stability training and the correct footwear you can minimize the odds. For example, during contact sports we recommend that you wear a brace when you get back to training.

Recovery Time

Your physical therapist or physiotherapist can give you a prognosis for your recovery time after a physical assessment. A mild sprain usually only takes a few weeks for full recovery, whereas a torn ligament might take up to 3 months until you can get back to unrestricted activity. You may need to wear an ankle brace the time being as it may help you in your daily activities.

If you’re suffering from a sprained ankle, please click to find out more about the available physiotherapy sprained ankle treatments. Alternatively, get in touch with your local PhysioActive clinic to arrange an appointment.


Thanks for reading!

This post has been written by PhysioActive director Denis Mecklenburg B.Sc. – Physiotherapist, Sports Therapist, Golf Therapist.

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