Mechanism of Injury
Ankle sprains are caused by sudden change in direction such as a twist or turn of the ankle. This action causes the structures around the ankle joint to be stretched beyond the normal range of motion. Inversion ankle sprains are the most common and affect the lateral ankle ligaments (which are found on the outside of the ankle).
The Ankle Ligaments
There are three main ligaments on the outside of the ankle joint however the Anterior Talofibular Ligament is most likely to be injured due to the position of the ligament. The other two lateral ligaments are the Calcaneo-Fibular Ligament and the Posterior Talofibular Ligament. The Deltoid Ligament complex is found on the inside region of the ankle.
Type of Sprain and Recovery,
Ankle ligament sprains range in terms of presentation and outcome, this depends on a number of factors including the degree of damage and injury management. It is common to present with pain, swelling, restricted range of movement, muscle weakness and reduced stability at the ankle joint. You can grade ankle sprains:
Grade 1: Mild sprain, over stretch the ligament. Expected recovery within 12 weeks
Grade 2: Moderate sprain, over stretch and partially tear the ligament. Expected recovery 2-3 months.
Grade 3: Severe sprain, completely tear the ligament. Expected recovery several months, may require surgery.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
Ankle sprains greatly decrease joint range of motion, strength and balance at the ankle joint. This effects normal weight bearing on the leg and walking patterns. So it is important that acute sprains are properly managed so that range of motion improves and you commence an appropriate rehabilitation exercise program to return to full fitness. Ankle sprains are very likely to reoccur, so it is important that you complete your physiotherapy program including high level balance retraining and return to sport drills.
If you are having any problems following an ankle sprain whether it is acute or chronic, then please feel free to get in touch with one of our physiotherapists for advice. We are here to help!