Ankle Sprain – Causes, Management and Physiotherapy Treatment
Ankle sprains are more than just a temporary inconvenience – they can significantly impact your quality of life. Whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or someone who simply values pain-free movement, an ankle sprain can throw a wrench in your plans. These injuries occur when the ligaments supporting the ankle are stretched or torn due to sudden twists or rolls. Regardless of the severity, seeking professional physiotherapy treatment is essential to prevent further complications and prevent ankle sprains from happening again. In this article, we answer some common questions that we get asked about this condition as physiotherapists in Singapore.
Why do ankle sprains occur?
Ankle sprains can happen to anyone, regardless of age or physical activity level. Common causes include:
1) Sports Activities
Engaging in high-impact sports and activities that involve sudden changes in direction, jumping, or running can increase the risk of ankle sprains. Soccer, basketball, tennis, and other similar sports put strain on the ankle ligaments, making them susceptible to sports injury during rapid movements.
2) Uneven Surfaces
Walking or running on uneven surfaces, such as gravel paths or rough terrains, can lead to missteps and ankle twists. Ankle ligaments can be strained when the foot unexpectedly rolls or turns on an irregular surface.
3) Improper Footwear
Wearing shoes with poor ankle support or improper fit can compromise the stability of the ankle joint. Footwear that lacks proper cushioning and doesn’t secure the foot effectively increases the risk of ankle sprains, especially during physical activities.
4) Accidents & Falls
Slips, trips, and falls, whether indoors or outdoors, can result in sudden twists of the ankle. The impact of these falls can cause ligament stretching or tearing, leading to ankle sprains.
5) Weak Muscles
Insufficient strength and flexibility in the muscles that support the ankle joint can make the ligaments more vulnerable to injury. When muscles around the ankle are weak, they are less effective in stabilizing the joint, increasing the risk of overstretching the ligaments.
How long should an ankle sprain take to heal?
The healing time for an ankle sprain can vary widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the sprain, the individual’s age, overall health, adherence to treatment, and the specific treatment approach used. In general, ankle sprains are classified into three grades based on the severity of ligament damage:
Grade 1 Sprain (Mild)
Ligaments are slightly stretched, but there’s no tearing. Mild pain, swelling, and minimal joint instability are common. Healing typically takes around 1 to 3 weeks.
Grade 2 Sprain (Moderate)
Ligaments are partially torn, leading to moderate pain, swelling, and noticeable joint instability. Healing can take around 4 to 6 weeks, but it might take longer for complete recovery and return to normal activities.
Grade 3 Sprain (Severe)
Ligaments are completely torn, causing significant pain, swelling, and instability. Healing for severe ankle sprains can range from 6 weeks to several months, and sometimes even longer. Complete rehabilitation is crucial to regain strength, stability, and function.
Is it ok to walk on a sprained ankle?
It’s crucial to note that early mobility and gentle movement can be beneficial for healing, as long as it’s done under the guidance of a medical professional. Rest, elevation, and applying ice to reduce swelling are important during the initial phase of an ankle sprain, regardless of its severity. Walking and overexerting the injured ankle too soon can delay healing and increase the risk of further damage.
For an accurate assessment and personalized guidance on when you can start walking on your sprained ankle, consult a healthcare provider, such as a physiotherapist. We will be able to assess the severity of the sprain and consider the specific grade of the sprain, your pain level, and the progress of your healing to provide you with the most appropriate recommendations for activity and weight-bearing.
How can physiotherapy help with a sprained ankle?
Our physiotherapy team in Singapore are experts in resolving pain relating to muscles, bones, joints and ligaments. By seeking physiotherapy help, our physios are able to use techniques such as manual therapy and exercise therapy to strengthen the muscles around the ankle, enhance the range of motion, and improve stability. Our physiotherapists can also help with taping the ankle during the healing process to provide additional support.
Did you know that ankle sprains account for up to 40% of sporting injuries? Other common ankle-related conditions include snapping ankle. Seek ankle pain physiotherapy in Singapore with our team of experienced physiotherapists today. Contact us to book an appointment!