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Ankle Pain - Ankle Sprain

Ankle Pain - Ankle Sprain

Ankle pain due to ankle sprains is unfortunately very common - and incredibly painful! It doesn’t discriminate between adults and kids and stops you from getting out and doing the activities you love. They can lead to ongoing instability and problems if not effectively managed, so must be properly cared for.

What happens when you roll your ankle - why does it hurt?

When you roll your ankle, you’ll typically roll it inwards which places a massive strain on the ligaments and tissues on the outside of your ankle. These tissues are present all around your ankle and work to hold the bones and joints in place, keeping you stable and allowing you to walk, run and play all day. These ligaments are known as the:

  • Anterior talofibular ligament
  • Posterior talofibular ligament
  • Calcaneofibular ligament

The force of the strain that is put on these ligaments when the ankle suddenly rolls in is massive and stretches them well beyond their normal capacity, which results in them becoming damaged.

What are the symptoms?

After suddenly rolling your ankle inwards, you’ll typically experience:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling

These symptoms can make it difficult and painful to walk as these damaged ligaments are essential and always active during walking. Any movement that mimics the action of injury, that is, if you move your foot inwards and put any tension on these lateral ligaments, results in pain. You may also experience bruising around the outside of the ankle, and if the action of rolling the ankle out resulted in the bones of the foot and ankle hitting the ground then there may be a chance you could have damaged some of the bones also.

What causes an ankle sprain?

You can sprain your ankle from any activity that causes the foot to suddenly twist or roll in. Often it occurs during sports, especially when you’re changing direction often, moving quickly and on uneven surfaces, and wearing unsupportive or unstable shoes that don’t help support your foot in place and allow lots of movement through the foot.

If I’ve sprained my ankle once, am I more likely to sprain it again?

When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments need to be well cared for and effectively managed to make sure that they heal correctly. If an ankle sprain is ignored or proper measures for care aren’t taken, you are at a significant risk of developing lateral ankle instability. Lateral ankle instability means that your ankle won’t be as stable because the ligaments didn’t heal properly and in this case you’ll definitely be at a greater risk of re-injuring and spraining your ankle again because you don’t have the stability from the ligaments that you used to.

What should I do for my sprained ankle?

The first thing you should do is ice your ankle and avoid any movements that point your foot inwards and hence place any strain on your lateral ankle ligaments. Because ankle sprains have different levels of severity and the extent of the damaged needs to be assessed, your next step is to see your podiatrist. They’ll create a treatment plan for you that will allow your ankle to heal properly and minimise your risk of developing lateral ankle instability.

A common treatment for a sprained ankle is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest gives the ankle ligaments an opportunity to heal while ice helps reduce the inflammation. Compression - wrapping of the ankle with an elastic wrap - and elevation - supporting the ankle about 3 feet off the floor -  work to decrease swelling. Recommended medications to help with pain are NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, but some physicians may prescribe pain medications if the injury is severe. An effective rehabilitation program is required to strengthen the ankle, restore movement and reduce the risk of the same injury reoccurring. A combination of footwear advice, strapping and possible orthoses may be employed to further reduce this risk.

If you’re worried you may already have an unstable ankle, your podiatrist will be able to run through what you can do to reduce the likelihood of ongoing sprains as keep your ankle as stable and supported as possible. Having lateral ankle instability doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sports you love and your podiatrist will work with you to have you performing at your best and not letting it hinder your performance.

Two weeks with Calcaneal Spur and finally got to see Doc. He sent me to Kevin @ Eleven and with One Appointment, he had me walking without Crutches. Yes! It still hurt. Did the Stretching, Rolling my Foot on a Spikey ball and Iced it occasionally. Return visit, after he had his Holiday, and I' am walking fine. They do NOT want to see me again, unless it deteriorates. Which it has not :-)
- Ivan CooKe