An ankle sprain involves damage to the ankle ligaments, typically sustained during simple sudden traumatic incidents, such as rolling or twisting the ankle. The ligaments on the outside (lateral aspect) of the ankle are much more susceptible to injury than the inside (medial aspect), and can produce pain, swelling, bruising and a sense of instability.
Prompt assessment and management is essential in the first 24 to 48 hours, namely following the RICER regime and precautionary X-ray to rule out bony fracture, if indicated.
- Soft tissue treatment of the ligament scar tissue to promote optimal stability and range of motion.
- Active and passive mobility exercises to restore normal range of motion to the foot and ankle complex
- Balancing exercises to re-strengthen the receptors housed in the ligament that provide stability and improve position sense (proprioception)
- Your osteopath can organise and assist with braces/strapping products if required for more vigorous exercise
It is also important to consider the various predisposing factors that may have caused the injury in the first place. This may include:
- poor foot/ankle mechanics, i.e. a stiff ankle joint will tend to make the ligaments work harder
- poor footwear
- joint restrictions and muscle tightness in the lumbo-pelvic region and/or lower limb
- a leg length discrepancy which may be overloading one particular ankle
Remember, an osteopath applies a holistic approach to their diagnosis, treatment and management, hence it is well worth considering in the event of an ankle sprain.