Blog Series: Ankle Sprains and Physiotherapy Part 1

Chartered Physiotherapist Rebecca Wyatt describes what to do after an ankle sprain…

“A sprain is worse than a break” is a phrase you often hear thrown around but it isn’t necessarily true and is very much dependent on the mechanism of injury, severity of the trauma sustained and the individual person. Ankle sprains are more common in active people and the ankle is one of the most frequently injured sites in sports. It is also responsible for a high proportion of absenteeism from work in European countries.

An ankle sprain usually occurs with a patient “rolling or turning” their ankle over and it can also be a recurrent thing. Pain and injury usually locates over the outside (lateral) aspect of the ankle and foot and the severity of the injury is dependent on the force and trauma put through the ankle during the sprain.  For instance, football, indoor volleyball, netball and field sports typically are higher risk for sustaining an ankle sprain.

What could be injured?

The list below details possible areas for injury, all of which could occur in isolation or combination and of various severities:

  • Low grade ligament strain and distortion
  • Ligament tear or rupture
  • Joint capsule inflammation or tear
  • Fracture
  • Peroneal muscle rupture or traction (overstretch) injury
  • Pain on the inside of the foot
  • Periosteal inflammation (a bruised bone)

It is highly important that the presence of a fracture is ruled out immediately. If the ankle sprain was sustained through high impact or severe force then a trip to A+E is compulsory, and if you are not sure then a visit to A+E is still recommended. Your ankle will bruise and swell up to some degree and can be very painful, therefore appropriate pain control medication either from A+E of your GP is advised. If an x-ray has shown you are fracture free, it is worthwhile to consider a visit to your local Physiotherapist to obtain an assessment of any soft tissue damage.

Evidence has shown that at the time of an ankle sprain, the ability to walk again within 48hours is a good sign, but doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t significantly damaged the ankle. Assessment by a Chartered Physiotherapist is highly recommended at this stage to obtain a diagnosis and assess whether there is a need for onwards referral to an Orthopaedic consultant.

A Physiotherapist is vital in assessing whether there is any instability in the ankle due to ligament damage and can help formulate the best management plan for your ankle sprain.  It is also highly important that certain muscles such as the peroneals and tibialis posterior are assessed as soon as possible after an ankle sprain to check their integrity. If one of these muscles has been ruptured there is a very small window for surgical repair and these are treated as an emergency.

In summary, if you have recently sprained your ankle for the first time, or if it is a recurrence then is highly important that you seek appropriate medical and physiotherapy assessment.  The next blog in this Ankle Sprain series will detail initial advice and treatment of ankle sprains.


If you or someone you know has sprained their ankle or is prone to regularly injuring their ankles, call the Physiotherapy team at Lilliput Health today for further information or to book in an assessment. Call 01202 725090 or email