Lateral/Inversion Ankle Sprain


What is a Sprained Ankle?

Ankle sprains are quite a common injury amongst all athletes.  The ligaments surrounding the ankle play a vital role in providing structural stability and create balance through the joint also known as proprioceptive feedback.  

An ankle sprain refers damage to one or more ligaments which surround the ankle joint.  There are different types of ankle sprains that correspond to the specific ligaments that are affected.

How does an Ankle Sprain occur?

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Ouch! Ankle Sprains are common

It can occur when you land on your foot in an awkward position or when your foot twists unexpectedly, causing a sudden or overstretching to the ligaments beyond its structural limits.  
Common causes can include:
– running or walking on uneven/unstable surfaces
– sudden stopping or quick changes in direction
– falling or landing onto another person’s foot

Recurrence rates of injury are quite high if an ankle sprain injury has not been properly addressed and rehabilitated back to a functional level. Many people we see for Physiotherapy have had an ankle injury untreated in the past, it is important to get any injury looked at by a Physiotherapist to assure you heal as best you can.

Which ligaments are affected?

Due to the anatomical structures of the ankle joint, the majority of ankle sprains occur on the lateral (outside) aspect of the ankle (Lateral/Inversion Ankle Sprain).  As a result, the most common ligament that is damaged is the Anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL).  Depending on the severity and mechanism of injury, other lateral ligaments of the ankle such as the Calcaneo-fibular ligament (CFL) and Posterior-talofibular ligament (PTFL) may be damaged as well.

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Less commonly injured are the Deltoid ligaments which is on the medial aspect of the ankle (Eversion sprain) as well as the Syndesmosis (High ankle sprain)

The degree of which the ligament is torn can be categorized into different grades:sprained ankle physio sydney cbd
Grade I: Mild – microscopic tearing of the ligament
Grade II: Moderate – partial tearing of the ligament
Grade III: Severe – complete rupture of the ligament


Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle:

The symptoms of a sprained ankle will vary depending on the severity of the injury.  
In general, you may experience:
– Pain
– Swelling and/or discolouration
– Tenderness on Palpation
– Instability of the ankle


Management principles:

During the early stages of your injury, it is recommended to follow the RICE method to control pain and allow for optimal healing.

Relative Rest

As your symptoms begin to settle down, your next aim is to restore any loss of range of motion in the ankle and to gradually strengthen the musculature around it.  This can be achieved by simple active ankle movements and some gentle stretching exercises, all within a pain-free range, advised by your Sydney Physiotherapist.  The addition of isometric strengthening exercises can be used to start the strengthening process. The use of therabands or elastic tubing are often used to help progress with your exercises.

Balance, or proprioceptive, training is also a vital part in your rehabilitation.  People often tend to forget the importance of re-teaching the muscles how to provide dynamic stability.  Better control of the ankle can be promoted by utilizing a variety of unstable surfaces or single-leg exercises in your routine.  

The last step is to progress and tailor your exercises to the specific demands of your sport before you return to play.  The aim at this stage of rehab is to safely and effectively return to sport without re-injury. For example: start with jogging along the sidelines and progress with short and quick accelerations/decelerations.  Also, incorporate lateral movements by introducing small changes in direction while running or performing cross-over type drills.  The addition of dribbling a ball between cones also adds another layer of complexity.  The ideas are endless when it comes to sport-specific training.

It is important to seek a health professional if you continue to have concerns regarding your injury.  A qualified physiotherapist would be able to help aid in a diagnosis and provide rehabilitation guidelines for you to follow to ensure effective recovery.