An ankle sprain is damage/injury to the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint. There job is to protect the ankle during movements by ensuring the ankle does not move beyond its normal limits. An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries that can happen to anyone of any age. Sprains tend to range in severity from mild to severe, this depends on the number of fibres of the ligaments that have been damaged.
Signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain:
- Burning around the area of injury
- Pain especially when weight bearing and/or movements of the joint
- Tenderness to touch the area
- Popping sensation at the time of injury
Based on these symptoms if you have pain and swelling in your ankle you should suspect a sprain. Home management should sufficient in in treating your injury although you should consult a physiotherapist to assess the severity of the sprain. If your signs and symptoms are severe you may have ruptured a ligament and/or have some bony damage.
Ankle sprain occurs when your ankle is forced out of its natural position. This can cause the ligaments of the ankle to be overstretched.
Common causes of ankle sprains:
- A fall that causes you to land on a twisted ankle
- Landing awkwardly on your foot after jumping or running
- Walking or exercises on uneven surfaces
- Another person landing on your foot with force
Risk factors associated with these causes can help you understand how the injury occurs and put in place the best preventative steps in protecting your ankle.
Physical condition- to minimize your risk of ankle injury you should ensure you have good flexibility and strength in all movement at the ankle.
Incorrect footwear– incorrect footwear for example shoes that don’t fit correctly can make ankle muscles more vulnerable to injury
Prior ankle injury – once you have had an ankle sprain, it is of all injuries the most common injury in reoccurrence, meaning if you have damaged it previously you are likely to do it again.
Sports participation – ankle sprains are mostly as a result of a landing or cutting and twisting motion. Often this is in a sports environment in sports such as basketball, football, rugby and tennis.
Simple home management steps may not fully resolve your ankle injury but will help to reduce your symptoms.
Rest – ensure you are not using the ankle or completing activities that provoke the pain
Ice – icing the are should help to reduce the selling you should place an ice pack over the area several times a day for fifteen minutes at a time. (Do not apply ice directly to the skin)
Compression – will also help with the reduction of swelling and will help immobilise the area
Elevation – elevate the ankle above the height of you head as much as possible in the first 48hours