Sprained Ankle

By: Michelle Duclos, MS, ATC

Overview of a Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankles are a frequent injury in everyday life. An ankle sprain is defined as a stretch or a tear in one or more ankle ligaments. Twisting the ankle on an uneven surface usually causes an ankle sprain.

Treatment for a sprained ankles can include Rest, Ice, compression, and elevation.  JOI has the answers for your ankle sprain.Ankle Sprain


What are the Types of Ankle Sprains?

There are 3 types of ankle sprains - inversion ankle sprain eversion ankle sprain high ankle sprain.An ankle sprain caused a twisted ankle.

There are three different types of sprained ankles

  • Inversion ankle sprain
  • Eversion ankle sprain
  • High ankle sprain.

An inversion ankle sprain includes the lateral ankle ligaments, which include:

  • Anterior talofibular ligament
  • Calcaneofibular ligament
  • Posterior talofibular ligament

Inversion sprains are the most common and are caused when the foot is rolled inwards. 

An eversion sprain includes the medial ankle ligaments (deltoid ligaments) caused when the foot is rolled or twisted outwards.

A high ankle sprain includes the syndesmosis ligaments, the ligament that holds the tibia and fibula together (the 2 lower leg bones). High ankle sprains can be found in many football players and can be caused by the foot being planted on the ground while the foot is turned outward. 

What are the Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle?

Symptoms of a sprained ankle or torn ligaments can be pain and swelling.Anatomy of the ankle

Symptoms of a sprained ankle or torn ligaments can be pain and swelling. Hearing a “pop” when twisting the ankle, or the inability to bear weight. The majorities of ankle sprains are minor and can heal with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.).

More severe ankle sprains can sometimes feel like a broken ankle (for example, the inability to bear weight and walk on it) and require an orthopedic doctor to diagnose it using imaging tests such as an x-ray.

Once diagnosed with a sprained ankle, you may be referred to physical therapy.

Diagnosis of an Ankle Sprain

During your evaluation, a physical therapist will measure the range of motion and perform a muscle strength test for both the injured and non-injured ankle.

The Physical Therapist will perform special tests to check ligament stability in the ankle. A home exercise program will prepare you for your next therapy appointment and help with the healing process.

What is the Best Treatment for a Sprained Ankle?

TheraBands can be used for ankle sprains to strengthen the ankleTheraBands are used in treatment to strengthen the ankle

Sprained ankle treatment includes:

  • Restoring/improving range of motion and flexibility
  • Reduce swelling
  • Improve ankle strength
  • Improve lower extremity strength deficits
  • Improve balance/proprioception
  • Improve functional movement

Ligaments, tendons, and muscles each have tiny sensors called proprioceptors that send information to the brain. To reduce re-injury, it is important to improve ankle proprioceptors.

Some of the exercises we use to treat sprained ankle are Thera-Bands, the Biomechanical Ankle Platforms System (BAPS board), towel scrunches, marble picks up with your toes, writing the alphabet with your foot, and single-leg balance on even and uneven surfaces. These are just a few to name.

We also perform the Graston Technique, which helps bring blood flow to the area, speed up the healing process, and break up any adhesions/scar tissue that may contribute to a loss of ROM.

Another method we use is Laser Therapy, which also helps bring blood flow to the area to speed up healing and decrease inflammation and provide pain relief.

As clinicians, we also perform joint mobilization. This intervention can relieve pain and increase flexibility and mobility.

Home Remedies for a Sprained Ankle

While numerous exercises can be facilitated in physical therapy, some exercises can be done at home to help with a sprained ankle's healing process.

Some of the exercises you can do include using a pillow as an uneven surface for single leg balance, stretching (using a curb or a stair) both the gastroc and soleus muscles that contribute to ankle movement, writing the ABC's, and of course, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.).

Ankle Sprain Prevention

The best way to avoid a sprained ankle is to strengthen and to improve balance. Before playing sports, be sure to warm up properly and ensure you are wearing properly fitted shoes that support you in your activity.  To prevent a re-injury after an ankle sprain, it would be important to get your ankle taped or wear an ankle brace for support.

Ankle Braces can help prevent sprained anklesExample of an Ankle Brace

How To Treat Ankle Pain with Physical Therapy

JOI Physical Therapists can work on Sprained AnklesJOI Physical Therapy

When treating ankle pain patients, JOI Rehab clinicians will commonly focus on range-of-motion with active and passive mobility exercises. Another form of therapy is strength training. This will help with the stability of the ankle. Balance position sense is another key factor in treating ankle pain and preventing patients from losing their sense of balance due to ankle injuries. Different pairs of shoes may also help with healing ankle pains. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is keeping up with your health. Weight loss and a healthy BMI are always recommended in the treatment of ankle pain.

Related Articles: Ankle Sprains, Ankle Physical TherapyLigaments in the Foot and Tendons in the Foot.

To schedule for physical therapy for an ankle sprain, please call 904-858-7045. 

Jacksonville Orthopedic Inst. offers ASAP Fracture and Injury Services to allow quick treatment for your injuries without a trip to the Emergency Room.  JOI also offers Telemedicine visits with our doctors and therapists.

To schedule an appointment with a Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute Ankle Specialist,  Call 904-JOI-2000 or click the link below.


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