What is it?
A lateral ankle sprain occurs when the ankle rolls towards the outside of the foot and stresses the lateral ligaments (Anterior talofibular ligament, calcaneofibular ligament and posterior talofibular ligament). These three ligaments are often injured or torn in a lateral ankle sprain. Ankle sprains are graded from 1-3 ranging from mild to severe.
What are the Symptoms?
A person with this injury will feel pain on the outside of the ankle. The ankle may begin to swell and may form a bruise along the outside ankle and foot. The ankle may feel unstable or wobbly and walking may be difficult.
Rest is recommended in the initial phase and crutches may be needed if walking is very painful. It is advisable to follow the ‘NO HARM’ principle in the first 72 hours - Heat, Alcohol, Running, Massage. Physical therapy such as low level laser therapy may be useful in reducing the oedema and for pain relief. A compression ankle brace may be used to aid in supporting the ankle. Research shows that early mobilisation and the use of specific modalities on ankle sprains results in better outcomes in ankle sprains. Appropriate rehabilitation is crucial in preventing re-occurrence and reducing long term ankle instability. In severe cases of ankle sprain or long term ankle instability a surgical opinion may be needed.