The ankle comprises four bones which are made more stable with ligaments that run on both sides of the joint. Ankle sprains typically occur when the ligaments on the outside or inside of the ankle are overstretched. It is more common to overstretch the ligaments on the outside of the ankle and it is usually described as "rolling the ankle". The symptoms that occur with this injury are pain, swelling and difficulty taking full weight on the affected foot.
Initial management includes rest, ice, compression, elevation and pain relief if required. It is important to reduce further damage to the tissues around the ankle. This involves avoiding the use of heat and massage in initial management. Additionally, it is important to avoid excessive activity such as running. Consumption of alcohol slows the rate of healing of any acute injury and should be avoided.
Physiotherapy can significantly reduce pain and swelling, and improve the rate of healing in the ligaments. Physiotherapy treatments initially include the use of electrotherapy techniques to promote healing, mobilisation to restore full movement of the ankle and rehabilitation exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the joint. Return to activity and sport should be supervised by a physiotherapist to minimise the risk of reinjury and ensure that full movement and function is restored.