Sprained ankles are very common, and come in many different forms. By far the most common ankle sprain is a tear of the  ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Less commonly you can tear the inner side, the mid-part of the foot, or suffer a ‘high’ ankle sprain.

How do I know I have one?

The most common way to sprain an ankle is by rolling over on the ankle while walking or running.  Generally you have to stop what you are doing and may have pain with weight bearing for a few days. If it is a moderate sprain or greater, it is likely to swell and bruise over the first week. By considering the direction of the roll, the area of soreness, and by testing the ankle in the clinic, your physiotherapist can identify which ligaments have been involved.

What should I do initially?

Ankle sprains should be treated initially like other acute injuries with rest, ice packs at regular intervals, compression with a bandage, and elevation for the first 48 hours. If it is a severe sprain, crutches will be needed to assist with weight bearing for the first few days. If you are unable to take four or more steps you should get an X-ray taken.

When do I play again?

Moderate or greater sprains typically need at least 4-6 weeks of rest and rehabilitation. Studies show us that re-injury rates for ankle sprains are quite high. Regular balance re-training, flexibility work, and muscle strengthening is essential in order to prevent re-injury.

Do I need taping and bracing?

Taping and bracing can be helpful in the early stages of returning to sport after injury. The aim of rehabilitation is that adequate control and strength will be restored so that taping or bracing won’t be needed in the long term. In chronic and severe cases they may have a greater role to play.

A thorough physiotherapy assessment will identify which structures have been involved, provide an appropriate recovery plan, and answer all of your questions.

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