Sprained Ankle

What you may have felt:

  • Immediate pain on the outside of your ankle.
  • Unable to walk on it due to pain.
  • Noises – crack/pop/snap.
  • You can roll your ankle both inwards and outwards. However outwards is the most common.

What should you initially do?

You should perform the PRICER acronym:

  • Protect: Avoid further injury by using crutches if available.
  • Rest: Avoid exercise until cleared by your Physiotherapist.
  • Ice: Every hour place an ice pack on the sore area for 20 minutes.
  • Compression: Use Tubigrip, skins or another compression garment around your ankle to decrease swelling.
  • Elevation: When resting keep your ankle above your heart level to decrease swelling.
  • Referral; to your Physiotherapist and/or Sports Medicine Doctor. Check with your local LifeCare clinic if a doctor’s referral is needed before your appointment.

You should avoid:

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running
  • Massage

What type of treatment is best?

See your Physiotherapist and/or Sports Medicine Doctor.

  • They will diagnose the injury and provide the best local treatment, and/or medication.
  • Commonly the ankle will be bandaged or strapped to protect from further damage and help reduce the swelling.
  • Some injuries require a “Moon Boot” and possibly crutches.
  • Early mobilisations from the Physiotherapist assist healing and regaining control of the ankle movements.


Then what type of rehabilitation is best? :

Once the pain and swelling has decreased, an exercise program will be given to you by your Physiotherapist. It will include:

  • Balance exercises – improve co-ordination of ankle muscles.
  • Strength exercise – improve the ankles ability to withstand forceful movements.
  • Sport based exercises (hopping, zig-zag running) – to prepare you for sport.

How long until you can return to sport?

The severity of your symptoms determines how long you have off sport, however generally:

  • Grade 1: 1-3 weeks
  • Grade 2: 4-6 weeks
  • Grade 3: 6-12 weeks
  • Grade 4: Surgery – More than 6 months.

Recurrent Ankle sprains are very common, and a significant number of these can be prevented with early treatment and a properly designed exercise program.

Strapping is usually an essential part of returning to sport safely, and is regularly required for up to 6 months after the initial injury.

For further information see your local LifeCare Practitioner.

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For more information talk to a specialist at a Lifecare clinic near you.

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