Foot Health

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is the most common injury to the ankle and the long-term consequences of an ankle sprain is a common cause of chronic ankle pain. The most common type is the inversion ankle sprain, in which the ankle rolls over on the outside. An ankle sprain is the stretching and tearing of ligaments - sometimes the tendons also get damaged.

Definition

An ankle sprain is the most common injury to the ankle and the long-term consequences of an ankle sprain is a common cause of chronic ankle pain. The most common type is the inversion ankle sprain, in which the ankle rolls over on the outside. An ankle sprain is the stretching and tearing of ligaments - sometimes the tendons also get damaged.

Cause

Anything that makes the ankle 'tip over' increases the chance of an ankle sprain - this can occur in sport e.g. jumping and landing on someone's else's foot, walking on uneven surface, twisting motions etc

A number of factors predispose to ankle sprains:

  • Poor rehabilitation of a previous sprained ankle
  • Poor proprioception (proprioception is the ability to sense where a joint is, if you don't know where your ankle is, the muscles will not be able to prevent the ankle sprain)
  • Some feet are very easy to 'tip over' - this is common in those who frequently roll the ankle, without actually doing any damage and spraining the ankle
  • Weak muscles (they are just not strong enough to prevent the sprain occurring)

The sprained ankle is often classified as to how severe it is:

First-degree ankle sprain:

Some stretching or mild tearing of the ligament.
Mild pain, some swelling and some joint stiffness.

Second-degree ankle sprain:

Some more severe tearing of the ligaments
Moderate to severe pain - weight bearing is very painful, swelling and stiffness

Third-degree ankle sprain:

Total rupture of a ligament - there is a loss of motion
Severe pain initially followed by no pain, Severe swelling

Treatment

For all grades of ankle sprain follow the R.I.C.E. principles as soon as possible:

  • Rest your ankle - do not walk on it.
  • Ice - this helps to keep the swelling down. Use ice on the injury several times a day for 15-20 minutes (more than 20 minutes is not advised)
  • Compressive bandages are needed to immobilize the ankle sprain and to support the injury.

Elevate the ankle above your heart level for as much as you can for 48 hours.Consult Your Podiatrist for treatment and advice.