An ankle sprain is very common in a sporting environment but it can happen in the general population. The twisting of the ankle will injure a complex of ligaments on the inside or outside sides and may range from a mild sprain to a tear. The most commonly affected ligaments are on the outside which are a result of an inward twisting of the ankle. Following an ankle sprain there will be immediate swelling with pain. The inability to walk on the foot is a strong indicator that an X-Ray will be required to rule out any fractures.
During examination there will commonly be swelling around the joint with marked instability during functional tasks. Strength will be affected as a result of pain but is not always present. The range of movement will be decreased due to swelling. Specific clinical tests will reveal laxity or pain of the ligaments depending on the grade of severity. On a severe ankle sprain with suspected tears of multiple ligaments it has to be confirmed with radiological investigation. An MRI will show the damage in the ligaments and will guide the management in the severe cases.
The management of ankle sprain in mild to moderate cases is conservative with rest, ice, pain and swelling management. Full range of movement and strength will be regained before commencing balance exercises. Once all the previous steps are completed, functional training and sport-specific exercises will be initiated to prepare you for returning to sport.
Surgery will be the management for a full tear of multiple ligaments which will aim to regain normal stability and prevent chronic instability and osteoarthritis. The steps of rehabilitation after the operation are the same as with the conservative management, however with a longer duration.