Evaluation and treatment of a sprained ankle to determine the extent of the injury, speed up the healing process, and x-ray for a suspected fracture.
Physiotherapy for Ankle Injuries
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sporting injuries. There are two main types of ankle sprains:
Inversion sprain: This involves the foot twisting inwards so that the ligaments on the outside or lateral aspect of the ankle are overstretched. Approximately 90% of ankle sprains are inversion injuries.
Eversion sprain: This involves the foot twisting outwards causing the deltoid ligament on the inside of the ankle to be overstretched.
Ankle sprains are graded according to the severity of the injury:
Grade 1: The ligament is stretched. There will normally be some swelling and pain on touching of the ligament and often with running or jumping.
Grade 2: There is a more severe stretching of the ligament with tearing of some of the fibres of the ligament. There will often be significant pain swelling and often bruising and it will be painful to walk on the foot.
Grade 3: There is a complete tear of the ligament. The ankle will be very painful and it will be extremely painful to walk on the foot. There may also be a feeling of weakness or instability in the ankle.
Early evaluation and treatment of a sprained ankle is important to determine the extent of the injury and speed up the healing process. If a fracture is suspected, it is necessary to have an x-ray.
The initial treatment of a sprained ankle involves the RICE protocol of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation and this should be done as soon as possible after the injury. Treatment will initially focus on limiting pain and swelling in the ankle. Manual therapy is used to restore full range of motion to the ankle joint. A rehabilitation programme will include stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of the calf muscles, strengthening exercises and proprioceptive or balance exercises to improve the control of the ankle joint.
Sports specific training will involve a graded activity programme of running and sport specific activities such as jumping, twisting and turning to allow the athlete to return to their sport as safely as possible.