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Ankle Sprains – How to manage them effectively.

Lateral ankle sprains

Are you an avid netball or basketball player? How about footy player?

Lateral ankle sprains

There’s a good chance you have had a lateral ankle sprain (or ATFL sprain) at some point!

The classic ‘rolled ankle’ is one of the most common sports injuries.

However, this common injury doesn’t just occur on the sporting field. It can be caused by stepping awkwardly on an uneven surface, or even wearing high heels.!

What is a lateral ankle sprain and what causes it?

The ankle joint is made up of three bones, with a series of ligaments running in different directions connecting the bones and providing stability and support to the joint.

There are three lateral (outer) ligaments that help to stabilise the ankle joint. The anterior talo-fibular ligament, or ATFL is one of them. The ATFL is the weakest outer ligament and the most injured.

Sports and activities that involve running, jumping, and sudden changes in direction may result in it rolling outwards.

When this results in overstretching and tearing of the outside ligaments, it is known as a lateral ankle sprain.

What are the symptoms of a lateral ankle sprain?

If you’ve sprained your ankle you may experience the following symptoms:

  • swelling (immediately or over a few hours)
  • localised tenderness or bruising around the joint
  • pain when trying to walk, or when you put weight on it.


What can you do about an ankle sprain?

RICER protocol is suggested for treatment of a sprained ankle:

  • Rest or reduce activity.
  • Ice therapy (on for 20 minutes every two hours for the first 24 hours).
  • Compress the injured ankle using tape or a bandage wrapped firmly around the joint.
  • Elevate the ankle (above the heart if possible).
  • Refer – if you are unable to walk on the ankle, you should seek medical attention (including Physiotherapy)

You should also avoid HARMHeat, Alcohol, Running/exercise and Massage, in the first 48 hours to keep any swelling to a minimum.

How can a physiotherapist help with a sprained ankle?

Physiotherapy can help with rehab as you recover from an ankle sprain.

We will work with you to develop an exercise program focused on improving the mobility of the joint and regain movement.

Stabilising the ankle using tape or a brace is an important first step, and will allow the ATFL to rest and heal. Then you will need to strengthen the surrounding muscles to aid your recovery. 

When you return to your favourite sport or activity, you may need to brace or tape the ankle for extra support.

If you are looking for support and advice on recovery from a sprained ankle, we are here to help!

Give us a call on 9982-6555 or email so we can get you back on your feet.


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