Ankle sprains are a common injury in young and old adults. In young adults the ankle sprains usually occurs when jumps or steps on another persons foot. An ankle sprain can be an inversion or eversion sprain. The most common type of ankle sprain is a inversion sprain to the anterior talo-fibular ligament. In older adults ankle sprains usually occur when a person is walking on uneven surfaces. Risk factors for ankle sprains include previous ankle sprains, poor balance, sports, ankle abnormalities and forefoot abnormalities.
Ankle sprains are a common injury in youth athletics and old adults. In young athletics the ankle sprains usually occur when jumping or stepping on someone else’s foot. An ankle sprain can be an inversion or eversion sprain. The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion sprain to the anterior talo-fibular ligament. In older adults ankle sprains usually occur when a person is walking on uneven surfaces. Risk factors for ankle sprains include previous ankle sprains, poor balance, sports, ankle abnormalities and forefoot abnormalities.
Basic care for an Ankle Sprain
If you are unable to walk on your ankle immediately call your Dr. as the sprain is likely severe. If you are able to lightly walk on your ankle then begin following R.I.C.E. guidelines.
Rest: Limit weight bearing on your ankle to unload damaged tissue.
Ice: To reduce swelling and inflammation in the joint. Do not put ice directly on the skin and do not ice for longer than 20 minutes as it can cause frostbite.
Compress: To reduce swelling and improve joint stability. Compression should not be to the point that it is uncomfortable.
Elevate: To reduce swelling in the joint.
Be aware that doing these things only covers the basics.
Two Main Phases
Early Phase: Begin phase with R.I.C.E. guidelines for 1-2 weeks. Then move to basic activities (walking and standing). Work on restoring range of motion, strength, endurance and ankle stability.
Late phase: Begin phase by improving ankle function for linear mobility (jogging and swimming). Complete phase by improving ankle function to return to agility sport (basketball and soccer).
For increased success of Rehabilitation
Physical therapy has been clinically proven to improve recovery from ankle sprains in early and late phases. In the early phase of recovery physical therapists will do joint mobilizations, taping, soft tissue mobilization and ankle stability. In the late phase of recovery physical therapists focus on improving ankle strength, endurance, proprioception and control though properly guided exercises.
1. Lin C-W C, Hiller C E, Bie R A. Evidence-based treatment for ankle injuries: a clinical perspective. J Man Manip Ther. 2010 Mar; 18(1): 22–28.
2. Mattacola C G, Dwyer M K. Rehabilitation of the Ankle After Acute Sprain or Chronic Instability. J Athl Train . 2002 Oct-Dec; 37(4): 413–429.
Charles Amburgey PT, DPT
I am a senior physical therapist at the Two Trees Ortho site in Ventura (2895 Loma Vista Rd, Ste A). I have been working with Two Trees since 2015. I am specifically interested in pathologies involving radiculopathy, the ankle and the foot.