An ankle sprain is a common injury that we see at our Galway physiotherapy clinic. Most commonly seen is the inversion-type sprain (when the ankle rolls out from underneath you) which implicates the lateral ligament complex on the outside of the ankle. Lateral ligament injuries represent approximately 85% of all ankle sprains. The incidence of ankle sprain is highest in sports populations. Poor rehabilitation after an initial sprain increases the chances of this injury recurrence and chronic ankle dysfunction.

The ankle joint is the body part that is second most likely to be injured in sport. In the United States of America, the total cost of ankle sprains is approximately $2 billion.

Mechanism of Injury

Lateral ankle sprains usually occur during a rapid shift of our bodies center of gravity body over the landing or weight-bearing foot. The ankle responds by rolling outward, whilst the foot turns inward causing the lateral ligament to stretch and tear. When a ligament tears or is overstretched its previous elasticity and resilience rarely returns without physiotherapy input. Some researchers have described situations where return to play is allowed too early which compromises sufficient ligamentous repair.

Symptoms

• Tenderness, swelling and bruising can occur on either side of the ankle.
• No bony tenderness, deformity or crepitus present.
• Passive inversion or plantar flexion with inversion should replicate symptoms for a lateral ligament sprain. Passive eversion should replicate symptoms for a medial ligament sprain.

Mild Ankle Sprains

• Natural full recovery within 14 days.
• Taping and follow up to evaluate healing progression.

First time lateral ligament sprains can be innocuous injuries that resolve quickly with physiotherapy intervention. Some approaches suggest that only minimal intervention is necessary.

Severe Ankle Sprains

Physiotherapy is required with functional therapy of the ankle shown to be more efficient than immobilisation. Functional therapy treatment can be divided in 4 stages, moving onto to the next stage as tissue healing allows:

1. Inflammatory phase
2. Proliferative phase
3. Early Remodelling
4. Late Maturation and Remodelling

We treat all foot and ankle injuries here at West Coast Physio. Our team are highly trained to identify the problem and provide the patient with the best and easiest solution. If you’re concerned about your injury, please give us a call and we will guide you about the best recovery pathway that suits you.