I Just Sprained My Ankle: What Should I Do?

Alex Taylor21st of March 2019www.completepodiatry.com.au / blog / foot-pain-problems / what-to-do-ankle-sprain

I just sprained my ankle; what should I do?

As a Podiatrist I frequently have clients come into the clinic experiencing ongoing ankle instability and pain after having a sprain; this leaves me with the question:

How can I better help my clients to return to sport and activity quicker following an ankle sprain?

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What causes ankle sprains?

I often have clients come in my clinic with an ankle sprain that has happened following a sudden twist or roll or after landing on an uneven surface. This sudden movement causes an overload of the outside ankle ligaments that result in a sprain. These sprains are often referred to as inversion ankle sprains and are common in multi-directional, high-speed sports.

Repeated sprain sprains can occur when there is a weakness in the ligaments and surrounding tendons of the ankle.

 

What should I do just after spraining my ankle?

Ankle sprains can be painful and prevent you from being able to carry out your daily activities; I recommend these four key points to follow immediately after an ankle sprain:

  1. Rest, ice, compression and elevation in the first 48-72 hours after injury
  2. After 72 hours, start functional treatments such as early weight bearing with a brace and pain-free range of movement exercises
  3. Avoid any side to side activities that cause pain; focus on straight line activities
  4. Prolonged periods of rest are less effective compared to functional treatment

 

How do I know how bad my ankle sprain is?

By knowing what grade of ankle sprain you have had will affect your management plan that I will provide you with; ankle sprains are graded from a small to a large amount of damage:

Grade 1: sprain or stretch in an ankle ligament and a small amount of swelling
Grade 2: partial tear of ankle ligament(s), bruising, sore to touch and a large amount of swelling
Grade 3: a complete tear of ankle ligament(s), lots of bruising, very sore to touch, a larger amount of swelling and a large decrease in ankle range of motion

An X-ray is recommended when:

  • You cannot walk for more than four steps
  • Bone tenderness at the back of the inside or outside of the ankle joint
  • Bone tenderness in the midfoot region

 

How we can help with your ankle sprain?

Podiatrists are the experts in lower limb biomechanics and function.

We will assess your lower limb function and gait and provide you with an individualised management plan based on the areas that need strengthening and load management. My management plan consists of four phases:

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Phase 1: Offload the damaged tissues

    • Supportive footwear
    • Taping
    • Ankle bracing

Phase 2: Improve the health of the surrounding ankle tissues

    • Foot mobilisation therapy
    • Shockwave therapy
    • Trigger point dry needling
    • Range of motion exercises

Phase 3: Make the tissues stronger

    • Progressive strength and balance exercises

Phase 4: Return to sport with bracing

 

Do ankle braces make the ankle joint weaker?

Bracing your ankle after an ankle sprain is an important step in the rehabilitation process. Braces are designed to reduce the load on the damaged ankle ligaments while they heal and strengthen.

Evidence suggests the use of a brace for at least 6 months after an ankle sprain in combination with an ankle strengthening program.

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How do I prevent ankle sprains from happening?

Prevention of ankle sprains is best achieved with a functional balance exercise program with the management of load.

Below is an example of a successful program that I frequently use in clinic:

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The goal of this program is to expose the ankle to unpredictable situations in a controlled environment.

My passion is working with active, healthy families to keep them doing what they love doing. If you have questions about your ankle sprain, I'd love to help. Just put your details in the form below with a contact number and the best time to call; I'd love to talk about how I can help solve your ankle problems.

Yours in building healthy families, from the feet up,

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Alex Talor

Podiatrist

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