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A Lateral Ankle Sprain is a very common injury and occurs when the ankle is twisted or rolled. The term sprain signifies injury to the ligaments, usually on the outside (lateral)side of the ankle.
What part of the ankle is involved?
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that help connect bones together. Three ligaments make up the lateral ligament complex. They are the anterior talofibular ligament(ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament(CFL), and the posterior talofibular ligament(PTFL). The lateral ankle sprain usually involves the ATFL & CFL.
What should I expect following an ankle sprain?
Initially the ankle is swollen, painful, and may bruise. Commonly a loud “pop” sound is heard at the time of injury. The bruising and swelling are due to ruptured blood vessels from the tearing of the soft tissues. The ankle swells as extra fluid continues to leak into the tissues over the next 24-48 hours. This will lead to a decreased ability to weight bear. Crutches can be used if you are unable to weight bear through the ankle. Medical or physiotherapy advice should be sort if extreme pain persists and/or the ability to weight bear does not improve.
How can a physiotherapist help?
A physiotherapist will examine all the structures around the ankle and determine the grade or severity of the ankle sprain. People who have sprained an ankle often end up spraining the ankle again. The best results after an ankle sprain come when treatment is started within 24 hours of injury. Physiotherapists provide specific ankle rehabilitation exercises, taping and advice to reduce pain and swelling, improve ankle movement and restore strength and balance required to return to sport.
What can I do in the meantime?
Treatments in the first 48-72 hours are used to stop the swelling, ease pain and protect how much weight is placed on the injured ankle. The ligaments should be kept in their shortened position to ensure optimal healing. A simple way to remember these treatments is RICE. Rest, Ice (20 mins every 2 hours), Compression (bandage the ankle in a right angle position during the day) and Elevation (resting the ankle above the level of the heart). For recovery to occur, it is vital during this time to also avoid Heat, Alcohol, Running and Massage this in known as the No HARM principle.