What is it?
An ankle sprain is damage to the ankle ligaments, most commonly caused by a single sudden incident, such as when your foot rolls, twists or turns beyond its normal range of motion. A serious sprain may involve partial or complete tear of a ligament.
- feeling that the ankle gave way at the time of injury;
- a pop or crack;
- pain on weight bearing;
- swelling; and
Ankle sprains stretch the ankle ligaments beyond their normal range, or in some cases tear these ligaments. The sprain can be caused by:
- inversion – overstretching the ligaments on the outside of the ankle when the heel or foot turns inwards; or
- eversion – overstretching the ligaments on the inside of the ankle when the foot turns outwards.
Treatment for uncomplicated sprains usually consists of:
- keeping the weight off the ankle for the first 48 hours;
- applying ice immediately and then for 20 minutes every couple of hours after;
- compression with an elastic bandage; and
- elevation of the foot.
Medical advice should be sought if:
- There is immediate significant swelling associated with severe pain, and/or;
- You are unable to weight-bear after 24-48 hours;
- There was a loud crack or pop;
- There is deformity of the ankle, not associated with swelling.
Prolonged immobilisation of the ankle IS NOT recommended, unless advised by your doctor, as this can be associated with post-injury stiffness and persistent swelling.
Rehabilitation, including range of motion exercises to the joint, and balance and strengthening exercises of the ankle, is important after this.
Last Reviewed: 25/09/2015
Sports Medicine Australia. Ankle injury. http://sma.org.au/resources-advice/injury-fact-sheets/ankle-injury/ (accessed Sept 2015).
Mayo Clinic. Sprained ankle. Updated Aug 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sprained-ankle/basics/definition/con-20032428 (accessed Sept 2015).