Ankle Sprains and Physiotherapy

An ankle sprain is a very common injury seen in a Podiatrists clinic and is a well-known injury that involves the strain of the ligaments that support the ankle joint. Most commonly, it is the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that are injured (a lateral ankle sprain), as the ligaments on the inside of the ankle are much broader and stronger.

What causes ankle sprain?

Lateral ankle sprains happen when the foot rolls inwards under the leg, straining the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that prevent this movement. This can sometimes happen when walking or running over uneven ground, or when changing direction suddenly. Most people have rolled their ankle throughout their lifetime, though perhaps not seriously.

How can Podiatry help with ankle sprain?

In the initial phase after your injury, following the POLICE protocol (protect, off-load, ice, compression and elevate) is recommended. Following this your Podiatrist will most likely implement the following regime to give you the best outcome

Strengthening and balance exercises  

Foot & ankle mobilisation

Dry needling & massage

Taping and bracing

Anti-inflammatory medication

Orthotic therapy: to establish ideal foot alignment hence speed up recovery an prevent recurrence

The following ‘older’ treatments are longer used nor are they supported by published research:

  • ultrasound
  • electrotherapy

What can I do at home to get better?

Early movement and exercise will help you get back to your activity best after an ankle sprain. In the early phase, ice for 10 minutes on/off three times for the first 2–3 days may help settle pain.

As your pain allows, movement of the ankle will help to regain function quickly. An easy exercise to start movement with is to draw the alphabet with your foot every few hours throughout the day. You can also start some muscle activation and strengthening exercises by doing 5 x 10-second holds, pushing your foot down, up, in and out against a resistance such as your own foot or a wall.

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