An ankle sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments (the strong bands that stabilise our ankle) is overextended or even torn. It is a common injury that most people will experience at least once and can range from causing minor to severe symptoms depending on the incident.
What are the causes of ankle sprains?
Ankle sprains often occur in sports that require jumping or where someone else might step on your foot, such as soccer, netball, basketball, rugby or volleyball. They also occur just as easily during normal daily activities, such as when walking on an uneven surface, when you accidentally catch your foot while walking, or from unstable shoes that don’t support your ankle and instead allow it to roll around.
What will an ankle sprain feel like?
At the time of the incident, you’ll almost certainly feel like you’ve rolled your foot into an unusual position, which will be followed by pain. Ankle sprains are actually categorised into different stages depending on the severity of the injury, which best help to describe symptoms:
- Mild Sprain
- – Some minor straining of the ligaments
- – A mild sprain will have tenderness around the ankle and mild swelling
- – Partial tear of the ligament
- – Moderate to significant pain and tenderness around the ankle with some swelling and potential bruising
- – A feeling of instability when walking on the ankle
- – Painful to bear weight on the injured ankle
- – A feeling of some ankle weakness
- – Complete tear (rupture) of the ligament
- – Severe pain and tenderness around the ankle
- – Often significant swelling
- – Often bruising around the ankle
- – Substantial instability in the ankle joint
- – Inability to bear weight on the injured ankle without significant pain
Chronic ankle instability
It’s very important to note that when ankle sprains aren’t efficiently treated, the ligaments do not fully recover and are left in a weakened state. This means the ankle is not as stable as it once was, even when the pain has fully subsided. This makes you more vulnerable to further ankle sprains, and further weakness and damage. This is called chronic ankle instability. With effective and timely management of ankle sprains, we’re able to help prevent chronic ankle instability and rehabilitate weakened tissues to a stronger state.