Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle refers to an injury to the ligaments in the ankle joint. It occurs when the ankle is twisted or turned in an awkward way, causing the ligaments to stretch or tear. The severity of a sprain can range from mild (stretching of the ligaments) to severe (complete tear of the ligaments).

Causes of Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankle can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:

Inversion: Rolling or twisting the ankle inwards can cause the outer ligaments to stretch or tear.

Eversion: Turning the ankle outwards can cause the inner ligaments to stretch or tear.

High impact: A sudden impact or force to the ankle joint, such as during a fall or collision, can cause the ligaments to stretch or tear.

Overuse: Repeated stress on the ankle joint, such as during running or jumping, can cause the ligaments to weaken and increase the risk of sprains.

Uneven surfaces: Walking or running on uneven surfaces can increase the risk of ankle sprains as it can cause the ankle to twist or turn in an awkward way.

Signs and Symptoms of Sprained Ankle

The signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle may vary depending on the severity of the injury. They may include:

  • Pain: The most common symptom of a sprained ankle is pain, which may range from mild to severe.
  • Swelling: The affected area may swell due to inflammation.
  • Bruising: The skin around the ankle may turn black and blue due to blood leaking from the injured blood vessels.
  • Stiffness: It may become difficult to move the affected ankle due to stiffness.
  • Instability: The ankle may feel unstable, making it difficult to walk or put weight on it.
  • Restricted range of motion: The range of motion of the ankle may be limited.
  • Tenderness: The area around the ankle may be tender to touch.
  • Popping sound: A popping sound may be heard at the time of injury.

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, inability to walk or bear weight on the injured ankle, or if you have any concerns about the injury.

Treatment for Sprained Ankle

The physiotherapy treatment for a sprained ankle typically involves the following:

Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE): This is the first-line treatment for a sprained ankle. The affected ankle should be rested, iced, compressed, and elevated to reduce pain and swelling.

Range of motion exercises: Once the pain and swelling have subsided, range of motion exercises can help to restore the normal range of movement in the ankle joint.

Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises help to improve the stability of the ankle joint, reducing the risk of re-injury. These exercises typically involve working the muscles of the ankle and lower leg.

Proprioceptive training: This type of training involves exercises that improve the body’s awareness of joint position and movement. This can help to improve the stability of the ankle joint and reduce the risk of re-injury.

Functional rehabilitation: This involves exercises that simulate the movements required for specific activities, such as running or jumping. This type of rehabilitation can help to restore normal function and reduce the risk of future injury.

Manual therapy: This involves techniques such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to reduce pain and stiffness in the ankle joint.

Taping and bracing: Taping or bracing can provide additional support to the ankle joint, reducing the risk of re-injury.

It is important to note that the specific treatment plan for a sprained ankle will depend on the severity of the injury and individual patient factors. A physiotherapist can develop a customized treatment plan based on the patient’s needs and goals.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about sprained ankle please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Vuurberg, G., Hoorntje, A., Wink, L. M., van der Doelen, B. F., van den Bekerom, M. P., Dekker, R., & van Dijk, C. N. (2018). Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ankle sprains: An evidence-based clinical guideline. British Journal of Sports Medicine

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