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What to expect after an ankle sprain…

31/03/2016 by Pivotal Motion

Symptoms of an ankle sprain that a physiotherapist will see.

Ankle sprain symptons clearly visible on a patient's leg

These will vary depending on the severity of the sprain and how much soft tissue damage has been done, but your ankle may present with the following…

  • Swelling: this can vary from a small amount to a lot of swelling, and can last from a few days to several months.
  • Bruising: this can appear around the ankle, down the foot, even up the calf
  • Pain with movement or putting weight through the ankle
  • Joint stiffness and reduced range of movement
  • Warmth and redness of the ankle
  • Reduced balance

Management of an ankle injury by your physiotherapist.

Make sure you visit a physiotherapist or doctor after the injury. They can assess whether an x-ray is appropriate to rule out any fractures. They will also be able to assess how severe the sprain is, and manage the injury appropriately.

Research has shown that early physiotherapy can improve outcomes after an ankle injury.

Treatments can consist of advice on activity, joint mobilisations, oedema massage, exercise therapy to strengthen the ankle and improve balance, and also strapping.

See Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy blog on RICER for early soft tissue management. More information on ankle sprains can be found on the Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy foot and ankle page.

It is extremely important to work on the balance and strength of your ankle, as studies have shown that the recurrence rate for lateral ankle sprains has been reported to be as high as 80%. (1, 2)

1. Hertel J. Functional instability following lateral ankle sprain. Sports Med. May 2000;29(5):361-71.
2. Safran MR, Benedetti RS, Bartolozzi AR 3rd, Mandelbaum BR. Lateral ankle sprains: a comprehensive review: part 1: etiology, pathoanatomy, histopathogenesis, and diagnosis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Jul 1999;31(7 Suppl):S429-37.


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