Ankle sprain is the most common type of ankle injury. A sprain is an injury resulting from the stretching or tearing of ligaments. The most common is an inversion injury where the ankle turns under so the sole of the foot faces inwards, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
In a sprained ankle, the most common damage is sustained at the anterior talo-fibula ligament. (See figure) If the sprain is severe, there might also be damage to the calcaneo-fibula ligament (see figure). It is located further back towards the heel. An accurate diagnosis of the ankle sprain is necessary as there there may also be damage to tendons, bone and other joint tissue in addition to the ligament damage. Severe ankle sprains may be associated with a fracture. Thus,it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of your ankle sprain.
What can you do?
Apply immediate first aid for ankle sprains - RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
R is for rest. Rest is necessary to reduce pain and prevent further damage. Crutches may be required.
I is for ICE. Apply ice and compression immediately following injury for 15 minutes and repeat this every 4 hours. It can ease the pain and reduce swelling.
C is for compression. Crepe bandaging is recommended to reduce bleeding and swelling.. It is excellent for providing support and compression.
E is for Elevation. It will help in reducing bleeding and swelling when you allow fluids to flow away from the site of injury by use of gravity.
It is important to protect the injured ankle by taping or an ankle support. During the rehabilitation phase, tape can also be used to protect the joint and give proprioceptive feedback to the ankle without risking further injury. With partial weight bearing, an ankle support or taping method can protect the lateral ligaments (allowing them to rest) and at the same time, ensures forwards and backwards motion is allowed keeping the rest of the joint healthy.
How is the ankle sprain treated?
It is important to establish the diagnosis from the start. The doctor will advise a different treatment plan if there is an associated fracture or other factors.
A sports Medicine physician can assess the injury to establish an accurate diagnosis. Anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed to help with pain and swelling.
The Physiotherapist may prescribe a full ankle rehabilitation programme to strengthen the joint and helps prevent future ankle sprains. Compression devices or taping techniques can be used to reduce swelling and the use of physiotherapy modalities can reduce the pain and inflammation as well as promote healing.