Did you know that 60% of lateral ankle sprains will progress to chronic ankle instability? Knowing what to do at each phase will get you back to your best earlier and may prevent you from ending up with chronic ankle instability.
What is an Ankle Sprain?
An ankle sprain is a tearing of the ligaments that connect the bones and stabilise the joint. It results from a force being applied to the ankle that causes excessive movement. You will usually be immediately aware of the injury and may hear an audible “pop’ or “snap” due to the tearing or over-stretching of the ligament.
The ankle’s stability comes from the structural arrangement of the bones and the corresponding ligaments. These ligaments prevent movement of the ankle from side to side. The outside of it is stabilised by 3 small ligaments; Anterior Tibiofibular Ligament (ATFL), Calcanenofilular Ligament (CFL) and Posterior Tibiofibular Ligament (PTFL). The most commonly injured ligament is the ATFL, if the force is more server then the CFL and less likely the PTFL will also be injured.
Risk Factors for Ankle Sprains:
Proven risk factors include: previous sprains, increasing age, reduced strength and stability of the ankle, decrease or extreme flexibility of the ankle joint, poor balance and sudden change in direction.
What can I do about it?
Immediate treatment should consist of the RICER protocol.
- Rest the injured area
- Apply Ice for 20min every 2 hours. The aim is to reduce the bleeding and welling with in the joint.
- A compression bandage should be applied to limit the swelling in the joint.
- Elevate the injury, ideally above the heart.
- Referral or assessment by your physiotherapist or Doctor to diagnose and assess the extent of the injury.
The no HARM protocol should also be applied to limit swelling and bleeding. No heat, alcohol, running or massage. These will increase your circulation and in turn increase the bleeding and swelling at the site of injury.
Time Frame for Recovery
Majority of ankle sprains will resolve in 2-6 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury, some severe sprains can take as long as 12 weeks. How you respond to your injury in the early stages can be the difference between a quick or prolonged recovery.
A rehabilitation program that is tailored to you should include returning ankle range of motion to normal, balance, strength and neuromuscular control exercises to reduce recovery time and probability of re-injury.
Book an appointment
Our physiotherapists at Vitalis Physiotherapy are trained to help treat and educate about chronic ankle instability. Call 0410 559 856 to book in with one of our senior physiotherapists or visit our website online.
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