Ankle sprain

The most common injury to the ankle is an acute sprain of the ligaments. This typically happen following a sudden rolling or twisting of the ankle. The ligaments on the outside of the ankle can be mildly strained or can even be torn depending on how serious the trauma was.

Symptoms include acute pain, swelling, limping because of an inability to fully weight-bear on that affected ankle, and it gets worse with walking.

It is recommended to follow the RICER protocol in the first 24-48hours: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate and Refer to a health practitioner. An X-ray is recommended if a snap was heard when the ankle sprain happened.

Most of the time, an ankle sprain will resolve after a few days of rest and RICE. However, it is worth noting that the more times an ankle sprain occurs, the more likely it is going to be a chronic problem and it will take less twisting force to flare-up the ankle. This is why it is important to follow up with a health practitioner to make sure there is adequate joint movement and muscle strength.

An osteopath will look at the ankle, knee, hip and lower back to get a whole picture of the walking biomechanics and what could have caused the injury in the first place e.g. muscle tightness in the lumbo-pelvic region or leg length discrepancy which is overloading one ankle. Treatment will aim at promoting optimal stability and range of motion, and can involve some mobility exercises to restore normal ankle movement. Some strengthening exercise can also be given.

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Loudon JK Reiman MPSylvain J.

Published in British Journal of Sports Medicine

For acute ankle sprains, manual joint mobilisation diminished pain and increased dorsiflexion range of motion. For treatment of subacute/chronic lateral ankle sprains, these techniques improved ankle range-of-motion, decreased pain and improved function.