Do I need to see a physiotherapist after spraining/rolling my ankle?
Ankle sprains are an extremely common sporting injury. Ankle sprains can also be sustained during non-sporting activities such as tripping over a curb or uneven surfaces. Unfortunately, once you have sustained one ankle sprain, there is a very high risk of re-injury. This risk increased with each subsequent injury to the area. Fortunately, however, physiotherapy management of ankle sprains is very effective and can significantly reduce the risk of re-injury. Therefore, it is extremely important to see a physiotherapist after sustaining an ankle injury to complete a comprehensive rehabilitation program in order to return to playing sport or completing daily activities with minimal risk or a recurrent injury.
What causes ligament damage?
Ankle joints have both lateral (outside) ligaments and medial (inside) ligaments. The majority of the time, an ankle injury will be sustained following in inversion incident, where the ankle rolls in under you placing the weight onto the outside of the foot. During this movement, the lateral ligaments are overstretched and damaged. While less common, the medial ankle ligaments can also be damaged when the ankle is forced in, placing weight through the inside of the foot. Damage to the medial ankle ligaments tends to be more serious as these ligaments support the tibia, which is the weight-bearing bone of the shin. Ligament damage can range from a Grade 1 (minor ligament fibre damage without disruption of fibres), a Grade 2 (more significant ligament fibre damage with some fibre disruption) to a Grade 3 (complete rupture of one or more ligaments). When ligament fibres are damaged they will repair, however never as strong as the original ligament, thus creating an increased risk of recurrent injury. Therefore, the muscles surrounding the foot and ankle will have to work harder to stabilise the joint. There will also be damage to the proprioceptive fibres within the ligament that allow your brain to determine where your ankle is in space to assist with balance and to prevent it from excess movement that will cause further damage. Both the muscle strength and balance/proprioception can be addressed with rehabilitation exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist.
What to expect in an ankle injury? How long should it take for an ankle injury to heal?
Once you have suffered an ankle injury, it is normal to expect significant pain, swelling and bruising. Normal acute injury management should be applied (Rice, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and you should also make an appointment with a highly skilled and qualified physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will thoroughly assess your ankle to determine the location of the damage, the extent of the damage and develop a management plan. This may involve further investigation, such as an X-ray or MRI scan, to assist in determining the extent of the injury, however further investigation is not always required to make an accurate diagnosis. They will then determine if you require further assistance to move around, such as crutches, taping, bracing or in more severe cases a moon boot. Rehabilitation will commence immediately, initially with basic exercises within pain and movement restrictions and then progressing to harder and more sports-specific exercises to allow for a safe return to sport. Advice can also be given about taping and/or bracing the ankle on return to activity.
Our physiotherapists at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy are all highly experienced in the management of ankle injuries. If you have sprained or rolled your ankle and would like some assistance in management and rehabilitation, please contact us or book online.
If you have any further questions feel free to contact us here at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy and we can help guide you to determine the best massage treatment for you.
Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy
Melbourne Sports Physio has a range of qualified and experienced professionals who can help provide ongoing support and treatment. Our friendly team are located in across Melbourne in Essendon, North Melbourne and Blackburn South, and appointments can be made by calling or booking online.