Carina Central Physiotherapy
Professional Hands On Musculoskeletal Care

Ankle Injuries – Simple sprain or more serious?

One of the most common ankle injuries seen by Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists is a ligament sprain. The most common ligament sprain is the lateral ligament. Lateral ankle sprains account for 85% of all ankle sprains.

HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?


These are usually the result of a forced plantarflexion/inversion movement which tear the lateral ligaments. In more severe injuries, the lateral and medial ankle ligaments are both injured.

Ankle sprain treatment Brisbane

Inversion Ankle Sprain



HOW BAD IS IT?


Ligament sprains are classified as follows:

Grade 1 – Mild, painful, minimal tearing of ligament fibres.
Grade 2 – Moderate, painful significant tearing of the ligament fibres.
Grade 3 – Severe, sometimes not painful over site of rupture, complete rupture of ligament has occurred.

HOW CAN I RECOVER FROM AN ANKLE SPRAIN?


Adequate rehabilitation of ankle injuries is very important. 30% of individuals end up with persistence symptoms in their ankle after an ankle sprain. Also, once you have had an ankle sprain, you are more likely to get another one, so appropriate rehabilitation is vital to prevent reoccurrence.

Your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist will initially help you to manage the pain and swelling (often with use of supportive tape/bandaging) and then as you heal, design you a tailor made rehabilitation program involving strengthening exercises, balance and proprioception exercises, restoration of adequate joint movement, and even sports specific drills.

They can also give you advice about how to maintain your fitness whilst you are rehabilitating and let you know when your ankle is ready to return to your favourite sporting activities. Sometimes taping or an ankle brace is recommended during sport following and ankle injury. It can be at least 6 weeks after a sprain before your ankle is ready to return to sport.

HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S MORE THAN JUST A SPRAIN?


Your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist will take your history and assess you carefully to make sure you don’t have a more serious injury such as a broken bone or tendon damage. For instance, injuries to the talus bone (talar dome) are common, particularly when there is a compressive aspect to the injury (eg. landing from jumping).

Other acute ankle injuries include:

  • fractures of the tibia and fibula at the ankle (Pott’s fracture)
  • fractures of the 5th metatarsal (base of 5th toe)
  • fractures of the talus bone
  • Mid-foot fractures, such as Lis Franc. Pain and tenderness will be in the mid foot, not just around the lateral or medial ankle structures.
  • Tendon rupture or tearing e.g. peroneal tendons.

If you cannot weight bear immediately after your injury this could be an indication you have sustained a fracture. A popping sensation could indicate tendon tearing/rupture. If you have lots of pain and/or swelling and your recovery is slow then you may have sustained a more serious injury. Further investigations may be needed such as an X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI scan.

Your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist can refer you for X-rays, recommend any other investigations that may need to be done and liaise closely with your GP or specialist to ensure you get the best possible care.

HOW CAN YOU RECOVER FROM A BROKEN ANKLE / FOOT?


Treatment of a broken bone usually involves a time period of avoiding weight and movement on the break until it has healed enough to be stable. You may be given a moonboot to use, or a plaster cast and crutches.

Rehabilitation from a fracture takes longer to recover from than a sprain but your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist can guide you through the rehabilitation process and help you to return to your normal day to day activities and sport.

by Katrina Scahill