Ankle sprains are a common and painful occurrence for many, whose ankles may then weaken over time from the injury, putting them at further risk.
Ankle sprains are the most commonly documented musculoskeletal injury in those who are physically active. They’ve become so common that many people are quick to shrug off an ankle sprain, instead of taking it seriously and treating it promptly. We take ankle sprains very seriously because we know that ankle sprains can have significant long-term consequences for a person’s activity levels, livelihood and future injury risk.
Having a lateral ankle sprain means that you’ve damaged at least one of the three primary ankle stabilising ligaments located on the outside of the ankle. These ligaments become damaged when they are stretched and forced beyond their limits to the point of injury. While lateral ankle sprains account for the high majority of all ankle sprains, a medial ankle sprain may also occur, where you roll down on the inside of the ankle and damage one of the two stabilising ligaments on the inside of the ankle joint.
Lateral ankle sprains are typically difficult to miss, with a notable rolling out or giving way of the ankle. This action may be followed by:
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.
Ankle sprains occur when the outwards rolling movement of your ankle forcefully stretches the supporting ligaments, causing them to sprain and become damaged. The reason for your ankle rolling out can vary greatly, and could be associated with:
Chronic ankle instability
When repeated sprained ankles are ignored and left untreated, this can cause the ligaments to permanently weaken over time. This is known as chronic ankle instability because it makes the ankle less stable and more vulnerable to more ankle sprains in the future. Chronic ankle instability has also been linked to early onset osteoarthritis of the ankle joint, relating back to the trauma sustained during the sprain.
Our podiatrists work extensively with those with chronic ankle instability to best support and strengthen their ankles to reduce their risk of sprains and support them through their sporting and lifestyle endeavours.
As with any injury, the best approach to care for your ankle is dependent on the severity of your sprain, how many ligaments have been involved and whether there have been any ligament tears or ruptures, if other tissues or tendons have been involved, and various other factors. While managing your sprain conservatively at home:
At Matt Raden Podiatry, we’ll perform a comprehensive assessment and understand exactly how and why your sprains are occurring. We’ll then create a unique treatment plan that will let your ankle heal the right way, while minimising your risk of developing chronic ankle instability. This may include:
Most ankle sprains do not require surgery, but in rare cases it may be indicated if there are significant ligament tears or ruptures, or if conservative treatment approaches have failed to yield a satisfactory result.
If you’ve sprained an ankle or know you’re vulnerable to them from a history of previous sprains, our team is here to help - and to ensure you have the best experience doing so. We’re proud to go above and beyond for our patients, focusing not only on treating your pain and injury, but helping prevent it from recurring in the future.