An ankle sprain (AS) is common! No matter whether you are a sports person or not. If you cannot walk, and run voluntarily, you may have a sprained ankle.
Why is it so common? Should I tell you how I dealt with a sprained ankle?
Sprained Ankle | How does it feel in real?
Back in 2010, I had my 1st sprained ankle incident. It was horrible!
I was wondering a few days before the incident how it feels when you can’t walk. Don’t get me mad… I am a physiotherapist so I just wanted to realize the perception of a sprained ankle.
Well, I was a few steps away from my home when suddenly my foot twisted and I fell off the ground. It was hilarious at first! But then shameful – what if someone sees me?
I didn’t know the term earlier. I was not sure what happened to my foot. Maybe a fracture? I guessed all that was possible for a student of grade 7.
Somehow I managed to walk home. It was hard to stand on the affected foot, but I put weight on it.
The next day was an exam day and I reached school in a wheelchair. My foot restored its normal function in less than 24 hours. I did nothing and just rested overnight. My mother applied some ice as well.
How does a sprained ankle heal without any intervention? It was because I gave time for sprained tissues for healing properly. I didn’t walk again and applied ice.
What is Ankle Sprain?
An ankle sprain is an injury to your foot ligaments. It may be a tear or a stretch. It happens when your ankle is forcefully moved out of the normal anatomical position. Followed by this, the ligaments of the ankle stretch and partial or complete tear may happen.
Based on the level of injury, grades of ankle sprains are defined.
- Grade 1 (Mild) – small ligament tear
- Grade 2 (Moderate) – partial ligament tear
- Grade 3 (Severe) – complete ligament tear
Keep reading to learn about ankle sprain treatment.
Foot twist upward with an inward ankle roll is a type of ankle sprain referred to as LAS, while eversion AS involves an outward ankle roll.
Lateral Ankle Sprain
It is also called an inversion ankle sprain in which lateral side ligaments are torn. When you perform a forced ankle inversion, it happens.
Causes of a sprained ankle
There can be multiple reasons why a sprained ankle condition develops. If your ankle gets injured by any means or it twists followed by a fall, you encounter a sprained ankle. During physical activities like jumping, if you land, oddly, it can become the reason for a sprained ankle. Moreover, walking or training on uneven surfaces can also lead to a sprained ankle.
Symptoms of a sprained ankle
What are the sprained ankle symptoms that you may notice? Here is the list.
- Aching ankle on weight-bearing activities
- Tender ankle on touch
- Bruises if the injury is due to a severe fall
- Restricted ROM
- Ankle instability
- Popping sound on injury
Sprained ankle diagnosis
It depends on whom you visit. The healthcare professional will assess your ankle movements. Some special tests like Anterior Draw, Posterior Draw, Talar tilt, etc., are also suggested. These tests help in diagnosing torn ligaments. The patient may be asked for some medical imaging tests like X-rays.
Management of sprained ankle
It is a simple formula – RICE. It is not ‘rice’ it is ‘RICE’ – an acronym for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATION.
When you have a sprained ankle, you can apply ice to the swollen area to prevent inflammation. Then apply the ankle taping technique and compress the ankle. Elevate your foot and take some rest. By that time, the swelling subsides and the pain is relieved. On the 1st day of your injury, apply ice every half hour or at least 3 to 4 times a day. In the next 2 days, you should apply ice after 3-4 hours.
In case of severe ankle sprain, you can take ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
The recovery time for a high ankle sprain is 4 weeks to 2 months. Remember, recovering from an ankle sprain is possible if you follow the treatment protocols.
The treatment of ankle sprain may include surgical procedures like Arthroscopy and reconstruction. In the Arthroscopy procedure, the surgeon will inspect the joint for any bone or cartilage pathologies. In the reconstruction procedure, the injured ligament is repaired. For this, the surgeon may take some grafts from healthy foot ligaments. Whether you need surgery for a sprained ankle or not, depends on the severity of the injury.
To treat an ankle sprain, the physician may suggest applying the ankle sprain brace. Ankle taping and bracing improve ankle stability.
Physiotherapy Management of sprained ankle
Physiotherapy plays an exceptional role in the management of a sprained ankle. The goals of physiotherapy management of sprained ankle are;
- Reduce Swelling
- Alleviate Pain
- Restore Normal Ankle Functioning
- Restore Ankle Stability
- Increase Ankle Strength
The above-described goals are general, while they are modified as per the type and severity of the ankle sprain. The mild ankle sprain heals naturally and doesn’t require long-term management. PRICE protocol is the standard management approach for home-based treatment.
The physiotherapy management of high ankle sprains is modified as per the stage of healing. For example, in the inflammatory phase (first 3 days), the PRICE protocol is followed while AROMs of the ankle and toe are performed in a pain-free range. In the proliferative phase (four to ten days), ankle bracing and taping (after the swelling is gone) are applied along with patient education on movements. In the same way, the treatment protocols are modified for the early and late remodeling phases of healing.
The physiotherapist may give you a plan of care. It may list some exercises. These exercises include AROM or PROM exercises. Moreover, you may be asked to take part in the strength training program for the legs. This program targets both the muscles and ligaments of the leg. As recurrent ankle sprains are prevalent, balance training is advised. For ankle and calf strength, the PT may also suggest endurance and agility exercises.
The best practices in physiotherapy for sprained ankle management involve ankle bracing and taping techniques.
- Ankle Bracing – Kinesotaping
- Ankle Taping – Mulligan taping technique
You can prevent recurrent episodes of the sprained ankle by practicing the following preventive measure;
- Using elastic bandages to wrap the affected ankle
- Ankle braces
- Strengthening ankle ligaments
- No high heels, only flat footwear
- The warm-up session before training
- Slow down or stop when fatigue starts
Follow-ups for a sprained ankle
When you encounter an ankle injury, you should visit the clinic as soon as possible. If you leave it untreated, the situation may worsen. The follow-up visits to the doctor will include a briefing on how to manage recurrent ankle sprains. You may visit the doctor if your swelling doesn’t subside and the pain is not relieved.
Sprained ankles are highly prevalent and their recurrence is common as well. So, get yourself a treatment in time and follow long-term preventive measures to avoid the next episodes.