Having a sprained ankle means that you’ve damaged at least one of the five primary ankle stabilising ligaments. These ligaments become damaged when they are stretched and forced beyond their limits to the point of injury.
Unfortunately, ankle sprains are very common – to the point where many people walk (or limp) through them and don’t pay too much attention to them, aside from initially applying some ice. When we don’t properly care for and rehabilitate the ankle ligaments after a sprain, the ankle may weaken and become less stable, making us more vulnerable to spraining it again. This is known as chronic ankle instability.
The ligaments that surround your ankle help keep the joint in place and moving well every time you take a step. When you roll onto the outside of your ankle, you abnormally stretch the ligaments on the outside of the ankle – often forcefully – and a sprain occurs. Less commonly, you may roll onto the inside of the ankle, and damage these ligaments.
The painful symptoms are instant, producing tenderness and pain on walking immediately after the sprain. Soon, redness, swelling and occasionally bruising may follow, and walking on the injured ankle may become even harder.
Your level of pain can vary depending on how severe your ankle sprain is. At its worst, the ligaments may not just become damaged but may also rupture. Sometimes, other muscles that cross the ankle joint may also get injured in the sprain, with very similar symptoms. This is why it’s important to have your injuries checked by a podiatrist.
When you first sprain your ankle, apply ice to your ankle and avoid any movements that cause you pain.
Next, see your podiatrist. At Masterton Foot Clinic, we create a unique treatment plan that will let your ankle heal the right way, while minimising your risk of developing chronic ankle instability. We often use strapping to minimise any further stress on your damaged ankle ligaments, thereby reducing painful symptoms.
From the results of your assessment with us, we may also suggest tools like orthotics if we find that your foot posture and other biomechanical factors may also be predisposing you to ongoing ankle sprains. These will function to help prevent your foot from rolling outwards (or inwards).
If you already have some level of instability, we can help strengthen your ankle so you can enjoy the activities and sports you love without pain and at your best performance.