May 15, 2024

Lateral Ankle Sprain or Rolled Ankle

The most common injury to experience if you play any sport is a “rolled ankle” or a Lateral Ankle Sprain. Find out how we treat this common injury at Ground Up.

Lateral Ankle Sprain or Rolled Ankle

Not just a “rolled ankle” 

The most common injury to experience if you play any sport is a “rolled ankle”, and the most common management is “Oh, let’s just rest and see how we go” whilst you’re limping. 

During these early stages of injury, how you manage your ankle has a big determinant to whether you can return to sport earlier, or you’ll increase the chances of rolling it again.

This is due to the weakening of muscles around the hips and legs when you alter your walking gait.  

The 3 main ligaments of your ankle:
  • Calcaneofibular Ligament (CFL): This ligament connects your heel bone (calcaneus) to your shin bone (fibula), the smaller bone on the outer side of your lower leg. It acts to prevent excessive outward tilting of the ankle.
  • Posterior Talofibular Ligament (PTFL): Located behind your ankle joint, the PTFL connects your talus bone (the bone that sits between your heel and shinbone) to your fibula. It helps to prevent your ankle from rolling inwards.
  • Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL): The ATFL is the strongest and most commonly injured ligament in the lateral complex. It runs along the front of your ankle joint, connecting your talus bone to your fibula. This ligament plays a crucial role in stabilising your ankle during side-to-side movements.

Understanding Their Roles

Very simply, these three ligaments work together to provide stability and support to your ankle joint. They help to:

  • Prevent excessive outward rolling of the ankle
  • Maintain proper alignment during movement
  • Limit side-to-side movement

When Things Go Wrong: Lateral Ankle Sprains

Lateral ankle sprains occur when one or more of these ligaments are stretched (sprained) or torn, often due to a sudden inward rolling of the ankle. This can happen during activities that involve quick changes in direction, like basketball, netball, or even walking on uneven terrain.

 Signs and Symptoms

Pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking are all signs and symptoms of a lateral ankle sprain. The severity of these symptoms will depend on the grade of the sprain. A grade one sprain is a minor stretch of the ligament, while a grade three sprain is a complete tear (no longer attached to each other).

 Treatment Options

Initial treatment options include (dependant on the severity):

  • Protecting the ligament with a brace or taping
  • Pain management with icing
  • Promoting healing with exercise rehabilitation

 In the first 48 hours after the injury, icing the ankle for 20 minutes can help manage the pain and swelling. 

You can have your ankle assessed and treated at Ground Up Physiotherapy from day 1 in order to help promote healing. 

 Rehabilitation Time frame

The rehabilitation time frame for a lateral ankle sprain can vary depending on the severity of the injury. A grade one sprain may only take a few weeks to heal, while a grade three sprain may take several months. 

It is important to gradually expose the ankle to safely guided movements to promote healing rather than avoiding activities completely. By avoiding movement overall, you can become deconditioned in the hip muscles that help you run and jump more efficiently. 

Ground Up Physiotherapy can guide you through modification of activity and training to ensure minimal strength is lost during your rehabilitation period. 

Get a better understanding of when you can return to sport, contact us on 0481 873 288 or book online for a consultation to get you returning back to sport in a timely manner. Ground Up Physiotherapy is located inside a well-equipped gym that can accelerate your rehabilitation strength.