Types of ankle complaints

When the sole of your foot twists in or outside beyond its normal motions, you can sprain your ankle and develop an ankle injury. The ankle is supported by ligaments that, together with the muscles and tendons, stabilize the joint. When you twist your ankle the ligaments can overstretch, most commonly the ones on the outside of the ankle, and little tears can develop. This leads to an ankle sprain or other ankle injuries. You might also have experienced a tearing or popping feeling at the time the sprain occurred.  

Common sprained ankle complaints and symptoms

You will find it difficult to walking or put weight on your foot. Your ankle might look and feel bruised and swollen.

Risk factors

Risk factors contributing to an ankle sprain are:

  • Balance problems
  • Limited range of motion in foot
  • Walking or exercising on uneven surfaces
  • Playing contact sports such as volleyball or (indoor) football
  • Wearing footwear that is inappropriate for your activity
  • A previous ankle sprain.

Self-help for ankle injuries

Try and cool your ankle immediately after spraining it, this will help reduce the swelling. Keep your shoe on; this will minimise the swelling and limits any further damage (in case of a fracture). Keep cooling the injury for about 15 to 20 minutes with either running water or an icepack; repeat this action five times. If you use ice, make sure to wrap it in a tea towel or flannel to protect your skin from frostbite. Other pain relief options include:

  • Elevate your ankle to reduce the swelling
  • Rest your ankle until the worst of the swelling has subsided
  • Draw circles with your toes and/or foot; this will encourage the blood flow, reduces

  the swelling and prevents your ankle from getting stiff.

If cooling doesn’t ease the pain and you are still unable to put any weight on it, we would recommend seeing a GP or physiotherapist. To avoid creating long term ankle complaints, you should take it relatively easy for a little while after spraining your ankle. Keep walking as normally as you possibly can so that after three days the complaints have improved. Keep your ankle mobile and maintain your usual walking routine as much as possible. If, a couple of days after the sprain was sustained, your ankle allows you to stand and walk on it again, it means it is back to full load bearing capacity. However, it is important to remain very careful at first. Promptly contact your GP or physiotherapist if the pain worsens, if your ankle feels stiff or unstable or when you feel a blocking sensation in the joint.

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Physiotherapy treatment for ankle injuries

With a mild or moderate ankle sprain it is important to reduce the swelling and the pain. A physiotherapist can put on a bandage or recommend wearing a compression sock. In case of a more serious sprain, your ankle requires support from either tape, a brace or a splint. A severe sprain might need a temporary cast followed by tape or, only very rarely, an operation.

A physiotherapist can give you exercises to improve your ankle stability and for strengthening. If you have had multiple ankle sprains, a physiotherapist will try to find out what causes the issue in order to help you avoid it happening again. For example by improving the way you walk.

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