What is it?
An inversion ankle sprain occurs when you ‘roll’ your ankle into an inverted position. This means the outside of the foot typically gives way and you end up twisting the entire ankle inwards. There is often instant pain around the outside of the ankle and into the foot, but the exact areas that are painful depend on which muscle, ligaments or bones have been damaged. Some ankle sprains cause very little pain, whereas others can be totally debilitating and require surgical repair, that is why they are graded on a scale of 1-3. The grading is as follows:
- Grade 1 ankle sprain:
- Microscopic tearing of ligament fibres
- Minor tenderness and swelling
- Patient will be able to weight bear with minimal pain
- Grade 2 ankle sprain
- Moderate pain and swelling
- Bruising present
- Partial tearing of ligaments
- Ankle may feel loose or unstable when examined
- Patient will feel pain when weight bearing
- Grade 3 ankle sprain
- Extreme pain, swelling and bruising
- Complete tearing of ligaments
- Ankle very unstable
- Unable to weight bear
How is it treated?
A Podiatrist is an expert in ankle and foot injuries so will be able to get you walking again in no time. If you have sprained your ankle, your initial consultation will involve assessing the ankle so the degree of the injury is known. That means they will work out what structures have actually been injured, and how badly they are hurt. Inititally, the treatment will involve the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce as much swelling as possible. It is important though to get the ankle moving the way it was intended, as soon as possible. If the ankle is immobilised for too long, it can lead to long term issues with reduced range of motion.
After the initial treatment, your Podiatrist will be able to give you appropriate exercises to restore the strength in and around your ankle. Unfortunately, once you have sustained an ankle sprain, if you fail to rehabilitate it properly, it can lead to weakness and continual recurrence of the same injury.
It is also very important to work on balance after you have sprained your ankle. There are lots of nerves in joints, muscles and tendons and after they have been injured, they don’t always send the right messages back to the brain which can lead to poor balance and the risk of re injury. This is called a loss of proprioception. Your Podiatrist will ensure that this is addressed during your treatment.