Rolled ankles are one of the most common injuries that Physio’s see in athletes. In facet it accounts for 10 to 30% of sports-related injuries in young athletes.
The term “sprain” merely indicates that a ligament has been damaged. Sprains are divided into several groups depending on the severity of damage to the involved ligament. Most ankle sprains happen when the foot turns inward as a person runs, turns, falls, or lands on the ankle after a jump. This common type of sprain is called an “inversion injury”.
Physios grade ankle injuries as grade one, two and three. Grade one is the most common and requires the least amount of treatment and recovery. The ligament are often over-stretched and damaged microscopically, but not actually torn. The ligament damage has occurred without any significant instability developing. Grade 2 sprains are more severe to one or more of the ligaments and indicates that the ligament/s have been more significantly damaged, but there is no significant instability. The ligaments are often partially torn with evident swelling and bruising. Grade 3 sprains are the most severe. This indicates that the ligament has been significantly damaged with rupture of two or more ligaments, and may involve a fracture. Instability results and pain will present on the opposite side of the sprain due to tissue compression.
Your PhysioPro will provide a specialised rehabilitation program dependant on your degree/grade of injury. Treatment will likely begin with education concerning rest, icing, compression and elevation of the sprained joint, taping, and the issuing of crutches (if required). Physiotherapy specific interventions may include mobilization/manipulation of the joint, ultrasound, contrast baths, electrotherapy and a thorough rehabilitation program consisting of balance and strengthening exercises, and ankle propriocpetion, with an aim of return to full activity.
As a general guideline recovery from first degree sprains can take up to 2-3 weeks, recovery from second degree sprains can take 3-6 weeks before return to full activity, and third degree sprains can take as long as 8-12 months for the ligaments to fully heal. Your PhysioPro will be able to best determine a likely timeframe for a return to activity by considering all of the above factors.
Even after a return to activity, some protection is most often needed for the ankle joint for at least six months, as remodeling of the ligament is not complete until then. This often comes in the form of taping, supports or braces and/or a change in footwear.
Call your PhysioPro for advice on that sprained ankle today!