Ankle Sprains: How To Recognise Them & What To Look Out For

Are you wondering if you might have an ankle sprain?

Not sure what to do if you have an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains are common injuries, and a myth is that they only can occur for people who participate in sports or high intensity activities. Ankle sprains, however, can also occur during everyday activities and when you least expect it (for example, a misstep on the side of a kerb). Read on to learn about ankle sprains and how to recognise them.

What are ankle sprains?

Ankle sprains are injuries that occur when the ankle twists, turns, or rolls outside its normal movement. Depending on the severity of the sprain, it may result in over-stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments, which normally help keep the ankle stable. More severe sprains may also result in muscle/tendon and/or bony injuries or fractures.

What should I look out for?

Common signs and symptoms of ankle sprains may include the following:

  • Pain, particularly with ankle movement or bearing weight through the foot
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Instability (e.g. loss of balance when walking)
  • Pain/tenderness with touch or pressure around the ankle
  • Reduced ankle movement and strength

There may also be risk factors that lead to a higher chance of an ankle sprain, such as:

  • Previous history of ankle injuries/sprains.
  • Higher intensity activity (e.g. sports).
  • Uneven surfaces (e.g. sand, uneven ground, kerb).

What should I do if I have an ankle sprain?

Treatment for ankle sprains will vary depending on the severity of the sprain. In the immediate period after the injury, most sprains can be managed temporarily following the “PRICE” protocol.

After the injury, a review with a health professional (e.g. GP, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist) is strongly recommended. This is to see whether the ankle has healed and recovered well following the injury, to ensure movement, strength and stability has been regained, and to reduce the risk of re-injury when returning to your normal activities. Especially for more severe or recurrent ankle sprains, a health professional would be able to provide the best recommendations for treatment and management.

Do I need to do a scan?

Your GP, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist will be able to determine whether your ankle sprain requires imaging, which is used to help assess the injury to the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons) and/or to check for bone fractures. Not all ankle sprains require imaging as this is dependent on the severity of your symptoms and presentation. More mild ankle sprains, where symptoms are less severe and recovery time is faster, can usually be managed without the need of a scan.

Are you someone recovering from an ankle sprain? Are you experiencing ankle pain but are not sure what it is?

Book with our physiotherapists or exercise physiologists today and we can help assess and guide your recovery!

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