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!

1 reply
  1. Kim OLeary
    Kim OLeary says:

    I think that the major things that people don’t focus on with their ankle rehabilitation is to work on balance / proprioception and strength. They often get their time frame from their health professional and think that purely rest is going to do the job. Unfortunately these are the patients that have recurrent ankles. I had a patient at Wembley Physio Pro / Oceanic Physiotherapy recently who had sprained their ankle playing basketball at their best guess 17 times and had never been shown ankle strengthening with theraband, proprioception and balance retraining on the wobble board, bosu ball or sports specific exercises for basketball. There was an element which could not be prevented like when he recently landed on an opponents foot however even in this circumstance if the ankle tendons were stronger and his proprioception reaction time was better then he could of corrected it sooner and therefore he would of had a lower grade sprain.


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