What Causes a Sprained Ankle?

Causes of a Sprained Ankle

It’s not surprising if you or a loved one have suffered from an ankle sprain before… They are common! We discuss below what may cause a sprained ankle!

Unfortunately, only around 50% of people who sprain their ankle seek medical attention.

Following an ankle sprain, a large proportion of people will develop chronic ankle instability, being the leading cause of ankle arthritis. This can severely impact your physical activity levels and quality of life.

What is a Sprained Ankle?

There are numerous ligaments that surround and support the ankle. These ligaments prevent excessive twisting, rolling or movement of the ankle.

An ankle sprain most commonly occurs when your ankle rolls rapidly downwards and inwards, resulting in stretching, tearing or rupturing of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. The anterior talofibular ligament (“ATFL”) is most frequently damaged, which is the ankle equivalent of the “ACL” of the knee.

Some sprained foot symptoms may include bruising, swelling, pain and tenderness of the foot. A patient may not be able to put any weight on their foot or experience pain when walking.

Diagnosing an Ankle Sprain

The diagnosis of an ankle sprain first starts with a thorough patient history of the symptoms experienced and the mechanism of injury (i.e. the position your ankle was in when you rolled it).

Your podiatrist will then perform various ankle assessments to examine each individual ankle ligament or tendons for signs of injury or instability. Ankle sprains can often present with other foot and ankle conditions – This will be identified by your podiatrist.

Ankle Sprain Treatment

Though RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) may be helpful in the early stages, current research shows that RICE alone is NOT beneficial in acute ankle sprains. Early exercises and progressive rehabilitation and professional advice are essential to prevent long-term pain and instability.

In the early stages after an acute ankle sprain, it may be beneficial to take Oral Paracetamol tablets daily as required to manage the pain. Immobilisation of the ankle (e.g. crutches/boot) is NOT beneficial unless absolutely required. Your podiatrist may provide you with footwear advice, ankle taping or an evidence-based ankle brace for use in the first 4-6 weeks.

The majority of patients prevent long-term complications with a 6-month treatment plan. However, if symptoms and recurrent instability/ankle sprains persist, our podiatrist may refer you to a foot and ankle surgeon for a specialist opinion.

Sprained Ankle Recovery Time

Depending on the severity of your ankle sprain, your podiatrist will tell you the approximate time to fully recover. The average mild sprain recovery time can take up to six weeks. More severe ankle sprains can take a few weeks or months to fully recover. Please discuss with your podiatrist for a more accurate recovery time. You can view our Podiatry services here.

Enjoyed reading What Causes a Sprained Ankle? View our other informational podiatry blogs.

Contact Southwest Foot and Ankle Centre on 08 9791 1319 or email at info@swfootandankle.com.au

Go to Top