Ankle Sprains and Instability
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries to the ankle associated with sports such as walking, running, basketball, volleyball etc, or even stepping on an uneven surface unexpectedly.
The most common ankle sprain is called an inversion sprain where the ankle is “turned in” or “rolled over” onto the outside of the foot. This excessive forceable movement causes overstretching of the muscles and ligaments on the outside of the ankle. In severe cases, the ligament which is meant to stabilize the ankle can rupture or even cause a fracture of the lower leg bone as it attaches into the ankle .
There are different Grades of ankle sprains ranging from Grade I to Grade III (mild to severe).
Signs and Symptoms of Ankle Sprains
- Mild inversion sprains of the ankle typically result in a small amount of swelling along the outside of the ankle bone and may or may not include some localized brusing. This is generally due to some over stretching of the ankle ligaments and have caused a strain but not an actual tearing of the fibres.
- In more extensive injuries, the swelling and bruising is more significant along with pain. Weight bearing is usually not well tolerated. This suggests that one or more of the three main outer ankle ligaments has been sprained (with actual tearing of some of the fibers). If severe pain extends above the ankle area, the possibility of fibular fracture (lower leg bone) and would require an x-ray to be ruled out.
- Ankle Instability:
- A history of repeated ankle sprains may be indicative of some form of biomechanical and/or muscular abnormality. With each successive ankle sprain the stability of the joint becomes compromised so it is best to have the underlying reason assessed by a physiotherapist
R.I.C.E — rest, ice, compression and elevation.
Physiotherapy — Physiotherapy should begin as soon as possible after the injury to speed the healing process. Treatment will focus on promoting healing, decreasing pain and swelling around the ankle joint and improving range of motion. Depending on the severity of the injury, crutches, splint, taping or an ankle brace may be suggested by the physiotherapist Appropriate strengthening exercises and foot biomechanics will also be assessed.
Bracing — A repeated ankle sprain may require a prescribed brace in order to prevent future injury during activity