Sprained Ankle Melbourne
Updated: Jun 15
Have you recently suffered from a sprained ankle? You might have been running, playing a sport, or just walking, stepped awkwardly, and now your ankle is hurt and perhaps even swollen. Regardless of the cause, a sprained ankle can be a painful and frustrating injury that limits your ability to move and carry out your daily activities.
Luckily, there are many treatment options available. At Align Health Collective, our team of experienced podiatrists offers effective treatment options for sprained ankles in Melbourne, Victoria. We will ensure that your recovery is as quick and painless as possible. Whether you’re an athlete or sprained your ankle during your everyday activities, you should consult a qualified healthcare professional as soon as you can.
In this article, we will discuss what a sprained ankle is, its common causes and symptoms, treatment options, as well as the expertise of our podiatry clinic in Melbourne.
What is a Sprained Ankle?
A sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries that occurs both when playing sports and during everyday activities. Sprained ankles are caused by stretching or tearing the ligaments in your ankle – the most commonly injured being the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect your bones to each other and provide support for your joints. When you twist or turn your ankle too far, the ligaments can stretch beyond their normal range of motion, causing them to tear or even rupture.
There are three types of ankle sprains, each with varying degrees of severity. Grade 1 sprains are mild, with only a few stretched or torn ligament fibres. Grade 2 sprains are moderate, with a partial tear of the ligament. Grade 3 sprains are severe, with a complete tear or rupture of the ligament.
The severity of your sprain will determine your treatment.
Mild sprains (Grade 1) may only require rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) along with over-the-counter pain relief medication prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional.
Moderate sprains (Grade 2) may require immobilisation of the ankle joint with a brace, cast, or walking boot, as well as physical therapy exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles.
Severe sprains (Grade 3) may require surgery, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation to regain strength, flexibility, and mobility.
If you think you’ve sprained your ankle, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if your injury does not seem serious. Prompt medical attention is important, because if left untreated, your sprained ankle can turn into chronic ankle instability, long-term pain, and a higher risk of future sprains.
Causes and Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle
You can injure your ankle ligaments in numerous ways:
Sudden movements that make the ankle roll or twist during physical activity
Landing awkwardly on the foot – this can force the ankle joint into an overstretched, unexpected, or unusual position
Walking or running on an uneven surface
Falling or tripping when walking or exercising
Wearing inappropriate or poorly fitting shoes
Weak ankle muscles or ligaments.
Playing certain sports will also increase the likelihood of a sprained ankle; these include football, tennis, basketball, and trail running.
A sprained ankle can cause multiple symptoms, each of which can make going about your everyday tasks painful and uncomfortable. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with sprained ankles:
Pain or tenderness in and around the ankle – this will usually get worse if you stand, put weight on the injured ankle, or touch the affected area
Swelling, stiffness, and bruising
Limited range of motion
A popping or snapping sensation and/or sound during the injury.
Diagnosing a Sprained Ankle
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s essential to seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare professional.
Physical Exam and Medical History
Your podiatrist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your ankle and foot. At this stage, your podiatrist will check for swelling, bruising, tenderness, your range of motion, and your ability to bear weight on your ankle.
They will also check for other signs of ligament damage, ankle joint and cartilage damage, as well as the severity of your ankle instability. Your podiatrist will also review your medical history and previous injuries to identify and rule out any other factors that could be contributing to your current condition.
Sprained ankles can be recurrent, so it’s important to let your podiatrist know if you’ve sprained your ankle before – this will help with your diagnosis and treatment.
Once your podiatrist has conducted a physical exam of your ankle and gone through your medical history, they will use advanced diagnostic tools to assess the exact nature and severity of your injury in more detail.
These can include an X-ray, MRI, or musculoskeletal ultrasound, which will also help your podiatrist rule out other conditions that could be causing or influencing your symptoms, such as arthritis, damaged tendons, a fracture, or ankle dislocation. Your podiatrist will then work with you to develop an individualised treatment plan.
Prevention and Tips for Recovery
Preventing a sprained ankle isn’t always possible, but there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of injury. These tips will also help you heal faster if you’ve sprained your ankle or want to stop your sprained ankle from recurring and prevent chronic pain. Remember to always consult a qualified health professional.
Footwear: Wearing appropriate footwear is a very effective way to prevent a sprained ankle. So, make sure you wear well-fitting shoes that provide support, cushioning, and stability for your feet and ankles.
Ankle taping and ankle braces: Both ankle braces and taping your ankle can provide extra support and relieve some of your pain. Speak to your podiatrist about these techniques and how you can use them to prevent recurrent ankle sprains.
Warm up and stretch: Make warming up and stretching part of your daily routine. This is especially important before engaging in any physical activity. Warming up and stretching will help you maintain your flexibility and range of motion, and will help to decrease your risk of injury.
Increase activity gradually: As with recovering from any injury or illness, take it easy. Don’t try to jump back into your previous workout routines right away, particularly if they involve running, jumping, or dancing. Remember to discuss your physical activity and exercise regime with your podiatrist so that they can recommend the best way for you to get back into it without causing any future injuries.
Follow your podiatrist’s instructions: Your podiatrist will give you very specific and personalised guidance based on your unique injury and lifestyle. These will include regular exercises as well as restrictions for activities that should be avoided. Following these recommendations for your treatment and rehabilitation is paramount to your healing process.
When to Seek Medical Attention
It’s important to consult a qualified healthcare professional if you have any severe, persistent, or recurring symptoms. You should consult a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any of the following:
Moderate to severe pain that doesn't improve with rest, ice, or over-the-counter pain medication
Swelling that doesn't go down with ice or elevation above chest level
Difficulty putting weight on the affected ankle or foot
Numbness or a tingling sensation in the affected foot or ankle.
Note: Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication may be a useful at-home treatment option. However, always consult your doctor (GP) or qualified healthcare professional before taking any over-the-counter pain medication.
Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Exercises
Physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises are an essential part of treating a sprained ankle. These exercises can help reduce pain and inflammation, improve flexibility and range of motion, and restore strength and function to the affected ankle.
Your podiatrist and/or physiotherapist will recommend specific exercises and stretches based on the severity of your injury and your individual needs and goals. Some common exercises used in rehabilitating sprained ankles include:
Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises will improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. They include exercises that move the ankle through a range of motion, such as ankle circles, ankle alphabet exercises, and ankle dorsiflexion exercises. Many patients find “drawing the alphabet” ankle exercises quite helpful – standing or lying down, use one foot at a time to draw each letter of the alphabet. If you do this standing, make sure you have a table or chair nearby to hold on to for balance and support.
Strengthening exercises: These exercises will strengthen the muscles that support the ankle joint, such as the calf muscles and the various muscles of the foot and ankle. Calf raises, step stretches, squats, lunges, and resistance band exercises can all help to rehabilitate sprained ankles.
Balance and stability exercises: Standing on one foot, single-leg balance exercises, and wobble board exercises can help to improve your balance and prevent potential ankle injuries.
Other treatments such as manual therapy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound therapy can also help to reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.
At Align Health Collective in Melbourne, VIC, we understand that sprained ankles can be painful and frustrating to deal with, which is why our dedicated podiatrists will provide you with the highest level of care and support throughout your consultation, diagnosis, and treatment.
We are committed to helping you achieve long-term relief from your symptoms, and we believe that this is best executed through personalised treatment plans that target each individual’s specific needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards healing.
What should you do if you sprain your ankle?
If you’re experiencing any ankle pain, try rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE method). You should rest the affected ankle, ice the affected ankle and surrounding area for 10 minutes at a time, wrap (or compress) the ankle with a bandage to reduce swelling, and elevate your injured ankle above chest level. You should also book a consultation with a podiatrist as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
What are the ligaments in your ankle?
There are several ligaments in the ankle that help to stabilise the joint and prevent excessive movement.
The anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL): The ATFL connects the talus bone (lower ankle) to the fibula bone (upper ankle) and helps to prevent the foot from turning inward. This is usually the first injured ligament.
The calcaneofibular ligament (CFL): The CFL connects the calcaneus bone (heel bone) to the fibula bone and helps to prevent the foot from turning outward.
The posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL): The PTFL is located towards the back of the ankle and also connects the talus bone to the fibula. This ligament is responsible for preventing the lower ankle (talus bone) from moving in the wrong direction.
The deltoid (medial) ligament: This ligament is located on the inside of the ankle and helps to prevent the foot from turning outward too much.