A guide to ankle injuries

Twisting, rolling or spraining your ankle is one of the most common injuries suffered in sport, if a particular person suffers these injuries they may be described to have ‘glass ankles’.

The ankle joint connects the foot to the lower leg and will often become injured after suffering from either an unnatural twisting motion, an unusual amount of force or when exercising on an uneven surface.

The ankle is a complex joint with several ligaments which can be twisted or sprained, the most common ligament to suffer injuries, the ATFL (Anterior Talofibular Ligament), is located on the outside of the ankle.

What makes up the ankle joint?

The ankle joint is composed of three bones the tibia, fibula and talus. The tibia is the larger bone of the two bones in the inside of the lower leg and bares most of the body’s weight. The fibula is the smaller bone on the outside of the leg.

Both the tibia and fibula attach to the talus and the three bones together create the ankle joint with tendons and ligaments these three bones.

What are the signs and symptoms of a twisted ankle?

Ankle sprains can vary in severity, usually a sudden trauma, twisting or turning over the ankle will happen resulting in pain, swelling and potentially bruising.

Grade 1 sprain:

  • Some stretching or perhaps minor tearing of the lateral ankle ligaments.
  • Little or no joint instability.
  • Mild pain.
  • There may be mild swelling around the bone on the outside of the ankle.
  • Some joint stiffness or difficulty walking or running.

Grade 2 sprain:

  • Moderate tearing of the ligament fibres.
  • Some instability of the joint.
  • Moderate to severe pain and difficulty walking.
  • Swelling and stiffness in the ankle joint.
  • Minor bruising may be evident.

Grade 3 sprain:

  • Total rupture of a ligament.
  • Gross instability of the joint.
  • Severe pain initially followed later by no pain.
  • Severe swelling.
  • Usually extensive bruising.

How to treat an injured ankle?

In order to treat an injured ankle rest is crucial as well as avoiding any activity which places added pressure or causes pain to the ankle.

Following the PRICE method within the first 72 hours after suffering the injury will help prevent further damage and begin the healing process. In certain cases, anti-inflammatory medication may be required.

When the injury is in its final stages off recovering the patient can begin to take gradual steps back to activity through strengthening exercises to help rebuild strength and flexibility, however we recommend seeing a physiotherapist for all advice on returning to exercise.

Once the patient has made a return to sport and the injury is healed, they may want to try and prevent a recurrence of the injury.

The patients can choose between n ankle brace of taping and trapping the area to help increase stability and receive the risk of suffering another injury.

One of the top braces available to wear while staying active is the Aircast A60 which is low profile enough that it can be worn with regular shoes comfortably while stopping any unnatural rolling movement. The A60 has been worn by Andy Murray for several years.

Alternatively, you can use this ankle stirrup taping technique to provide support against both inversion and eversion ankle sprains.

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