There are two major types of sprained ankle:
- Lateral ligament (inversion) sprain in which the foot rolls inwards excessively and pain is felt on the outer ankle, usually underneath the lateral malleolus (bony prominence). This is by far the most common (70-80%).
- Medial ligament (eversion) sprain, where the foot rolls outwards and pain is felt on the inside of the ankle. This occurs rarely (20-30%), and often occurs with a fracture of the bone due to the strong nature of the medial ligament.
Swelling, severe pain, and warmth are three major symptoms found in an acute sprained ankle (i.e. first 48 hours), as the body attempts to combat the injury. The best form of management in this stage is the RICE regime:
- Rest – stay off the sprained ankle as much as possible (crutches)
- Ice – 20 minutes every hour for the first 48 hours
- Compression – tubigrip, compression TED stocking or bandage
- Elevation – keep foot elevated above the level of the heart
As with most musculoskeletal injuries, even though the initial injury is local, it can have secondary effects:
- Muscle inhibition, resulting in a feeling of weakness and giving way
- Reduced proprioception (joint position sense) leading to poor balance
- Instability or stiff joints, which are usually the result of compensatory strategies, but if left untreated, it can alter the way one walks, opening the way for future injury to the ankle and other structures in the leg and back
It is recommended to see your local GP for screening for possible fractures or complications. It is often better to be safe than sorry. Furthermore, light painkillers (paracetamol) as well as an anti-inflammatory prescribed by your GP can help with any discomfort. Then ask for a referral to your local physiotherapist, who is skilled in managing both primary and secondary problems as well as preventing future reoccurrence through tapping and exercise therapy. This would also ensure speedy return to physical activity or work duties.
If you have any further questions or require the assistance of a physiotherapist, please feel free to contact Alpha Physiotherapy and book an appointment on (07) 3279 3871.