Sprained Ankle

What are the common symptoms of a sprained ankle

A sprained ankle is a common injury, particularly among people playing sports such as tennis or football. However, it can happen to anyone, for example while wearing heels or simply stepping on an uneven surface.

Some patients report hearing a “popping” sound coming from their ankle at the time of injury.

The symptoms will appear immediately after you have twisted your ankle. Your ankle will become suddenly painful and may also become inflamed, bruised and swollen.

The pain from a sprained ankle comes from the ligaments. From the patient’s perspective, the pain can be similar to the one felt from a broken bone.

It is therefore important to see a doctor and establish whether the source of the pain is a ligament or a bone injury before starting the treatment. X-rays may be recommended to rule out any bone fracture.

If an ankle sprain is severe enough, or if it is not treated properly, your ankle could become chronically unstable. Ankle instability, on top of being uncomfortable, puts you at a higher risk of getting additional ankle sprains.

What is a sprained ankle

A sprained ankle is caused by a rapid twist of the ankle. This results in one or more of the ligaments surrounding your ankle being torn or stretched. This damage in the ligaments is what causes the pain of ankle sprains.

This normally happens because you have put excessive force on your ankle joint, for instance if you were walking or running on an uneven surface. Some sports or activities requiring you to move your legs and feet sideways such as tennis or basketball may put you at an even greater risk of spraining your ankle. Nevertheless any day-to-day activity can cause an ankle sprain if the foot is misplaced and the ankle is twisted.

In the vast majority of cases the twist causing an ankle sprain will be inward, which will cause the ligament damage on the outer side of the ankle.

In some cases, a high ankle sprain (where ligaments holding the tibia and fibula together are damaged) can occur, most commonly when the ankle twist is outwards.

The pain of a sprained ankle can vary greatly depending on the severity of damage to the ligaments. When you sprain your ankle, small blood vessels will also be damaged and will leak in the area. This will cause your ankle to swell up, bruise and become inflamed. The nerves in the area will also become more sensitive.

What are the best treatments for a sprained ankle

At Wimbeldon Clinics, our injury specialists will provide tailored treatment plans. As a general guide, these are the key sprained ankle treatment steps to follow: 

  • Assessment of the injury. It’s important to assess and correctly diagnose any joint injury, especially if symptoms are severe. This may involve just a physical examination, or scans and X-rays if required. If more serious injuries are detected, such as a fractured ankle or severe ligament injury, further treatment options will be discussed.
  • RICE: Rest, ice, compression, elevation. Following the RICE guidelines will help to heal a sprained ankle. Our team can advise on how long to keep this up. You may be advised to wear an ankle support or brace to support the joint while the sprain heals. How long this is required may depend on individual symptoms. 
  • Pain relief. If pain relief medication, such as anti-inflammatory medicines, is required, a qualified health professional can advise on this. 
  • Avoiding certain activities. It’s important to allow your sprained ankle to heal before returning to certain sports and activities. How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal? This can vary depending on the severity of the sprain, but following expert guidance is important. 
  • Physiotherapy for sprained ankles can also be an important part of sprained ankle treatment. Our specialist physiotherapists can advise on exercises and stretches to help support the healing process and restore and improve strength and flexibility in your ankle. This can aid healing and help prevent problems further down the line. 
  • Ankle sprain chiropractic treatment can also be very beneficial. Many people find chiropractic treatment beneficial for pain management, as well as aiding and supporting recovery and restoration of the joint and surrounding soft tissues. A chiropractor can assess how your ankle is functioning and any associated problems with instability, weakness and nerve inflammation, for example. Ankle sprain chiropractic treatment often involves a combination of hands-on manipulation and massage techniques to target these.