It is a fairly safe assumption to say most people have sprained an ankle at least once or twice in their life whether it be on the sporting field resulting in a serious injury, or strolling down the street and suffering an inconspicuous little roll.
Speaking from experience I can say I have suffered every possible version of an ankle sprain over 100 times! This has resulted in fracturing my ankle and rupturing ligaments 5-6 times on each side, which has lead to 2 x full ankle reconstruction surgeries. All before the age of 30! This is one of the things that lead to my interest in becoming a Podiatrist. I have learned first hand how to manage (and not manage) these injuries, and being able to now use that knowledge to help patients in clinic.
The Grades of Ankle Sprains:
There are 3 grades of ankle sprain injuries:
- Grade 1 (Mild) – Some swelling/tenderness with little impact on function with stretching or very small tears in the ligament.
- Grade 2 (Moderate) – Moderate swelling, pain and impact on function. Reduced proprioception, range of motion and some instability with some incomplete tears in the ligament.
- Grade 3 (Severe) – Rupture/full tear of the ligament with significant swelling, pain, instability and loss of function, possible fracture associated with ripping the ligament off the bony attachment site.
Keeping an eye out for the above mentioned symptoms after having an incident of “rolling your ankle” is a good way of determining whether or not you have a serious injury. This however is something that can be difficult to tell on your own, so it is always best to seek the help of a Health Professional, such as the awesome Podiatrists in the Pro Feet Podiatry team, to make sure that you’re receiving the appropriate care for that foot/ankle injury.
Treatment of Ankle Sprains
In terms of treatment for ankle injuries this will be dependent on the severity on the sprain. As a rough guide for time frames of recovery:
- Grade 1 – Approximately 2 weeks, generally requiring some guided strength and mobility based rehabilitation.
- Grade 2 – 4-6 weeks, possibly requiring the use of a supportive laced/velcro strapped ankle brace, and a steady return to activity when strength/stability allows.
- Grade 3 – 8-12 weeks, frequently requiring the use of a “moon boot” to immobilise and protect the ankle joint, with significant strength/mobility rehabilitation required in order to return to normal activity/sport and reduce the chance of serious injury in the future.
As with a lot of injuries involving the foot, time alone is not a sufficient treatment option and significantly increases the risk of re-injury. People that have suffered a serious ankle sprain injury are actually around 50% more likely to suffer repeated ankle sprains, and this is only compounded when proper rehabilitation is not incorporated into the recovery.
If you are interested in learning more about ankle and other foot injuries or have suffered one yourself and need some guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email at j[email protected] or anyone else on the team!