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Injury Update: The Ankle Sprain

Our feet and ankles are an important component of the body that allow us to walk, run, crouch, twist, jump and perform so many other activities with the lower body. The ankles are one of the most common areas for musculoskeletal injuries of the lower body. Ankle sprains occur in an average of 25,000 people per day and more than 1 million people per year present to the emergency room for ankle injuries.

A mild sprained ankle causes your ligaments to be overstretched. What are ligaments? Ligaments are made of tough, connective tissue that connect one bone to another. A severe ankle sprain can cause a complete ligament tear. However, ligaments are not sometimes the only structures involved. There can also be injury to muscles, tendons, and other structures in the ankle joint complex.

Signs and Symptoms

People usually experience pain and swelling immediately following the injury. In fact, many may hear an audible “pop” at the time of injury. Depending on if you rolled your ankle inwards or outwards will indicate which part of your ankle was injured and where it will be painful. Pain may also occur from moderate to severe in nature with walking and standing. Bruising may also present later depending upon severity of sprain.

Home Management

You should be resting initially and elevate. Then one can begin working on gentle range of motion and protecting the ankle from further injury. This protection could include stopping your sport for a short period, using supportive aids to avoid limping, or consider a protection garment (brace, taping).

When to see a physiotherapist

Evidence has shown a sprained ankle has one of the highest re-injury rates at up to 70%. So it’s important to get appropriate guidance and rehabilitate the injury completely. Typically your physiotherapy treatments will include:

· Swelling and pain management

· Gait (walking) retraining

· Joint mobility

· Progressive exercise prescription

· Balance training

· Education regarding appropriateness of bracing and/or taping

Depending on the severity of your injury, your physiotherapist working alongside your medical doctor will be able to progress you through the various stages of healing. They can help guide you to return to your regular activities and sports!


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