Macomb County Physical Therapy Assistant talks about common ankle injuries

One of the most common ankle injuries is an ankle sprain.  An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments that connect the bones in the foot, ankle, and lower leg are stretched or torn. Sprains occur when you make a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted; such as a fall, or when playing sports like soccer or basketball, or walking or running on uneven surfaces.

There are 3 types of ankle sprains.

•      An inversion injury is the most common cause of an ankle sprain and occurs when the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward. It results in stretching and tearing of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.  Anterior talofibular is the most commonly injured ligament.

•      Less commonly, the ankle rolls inward and the foot outward in an eversion injury, damaging the ligaments at the inside of the ankle.

•      The high ankle sprain is the least common. It can happen when the foot is forced to rotate toward the outside (away from the other foot), or when the foot is planted so it can’t move and the leg is rotated toward the inside.

Sprains can range from mild to severe. There are 3 grades of sprains.

Grade 1 sprain:

•      Some stretching or perhaps minor tearing of the lateral ankle ligaments.

•      Little or no joint instability.

•      Mild pain.

•      There may be mild swelling around the bone on the outside of the ankle.

•      Some joint stiffness or difficulty walking or running.

Grade 2 sprain:

•      Moderate tearing of the ligament fibers.

•      Some instability of the joint.

•      Moderate to severe pain and difficulty walking.

•      Swelling and stiffness in the ankle joint.

•      Minor bruising may be evident.

Grade 3 sprain:

•      Total rupture of a ligament  (may need surgery)

•      Gross instability of the joint.

•      Severe pain initially followed later by no pain.

•      Severe swelling.

•      Usually extensive bruising.

What are the symptoms:

•      pain right away at the site of the tear

•      Swelling immediately & start to bruise

•      Area is usually tender to touch, and it hurts to move it.

•      In severe sprains, you may hear and/or feel something tear, along with a pop or snap

•      You will probably have extreme pain at first and will not be able to walk or even put weight on your foot.

•      Usually, the more pain and swelling you have, the more severe your ankle sprain is and the longer it will take to heal.

Recovery from ankle sprains:

•      Phase 1  (RICE)  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. (one week).

•      Phase 2 includes restoring ROM, strength and flexibility (one week to two weeks). This may require physical therapy treatment.

•      Phase 3 includes gradually returning to activities that do not require turning or twisting the ankle and doing maintenance exercises. This will be followed later by being able to do activities that require sharp, sudden turns (cutting activities) such as tennis, basketball or football (weeks to months).

Limit Immobilization:

Immobilization can cause significant problems after ankle sprains. Patients will feel better if placed in cast or a walking boot, but this can lead to a stiff ankle, delay rehab, and make their ankle prone to re-injury, if the immobilization is carried on for too long.

Common Ankle Injuries – Macomb County Physical Therapy Assistant

Call one of our three Macomb County Physical Therapy locations for information on Common Ankle Injuries



Syndesmotic Ankle Sprains in Athletes

Glenn N Williams, Morgan H Jones, Annunziato Amendola. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Baltimore: Jul 2007. Vol. 35, Iss. 7; pg. 1197

Ankle Injuries Among United States High School Sports Athletes, 2005-2006

Alex J Nelson, Christy L Collins, Ellen E Yard, Sarah K Fields, R Dawn Comstock. Journal of Athletic Training. Dallas: Jul-Sep 2007. Vol. 42, Iss. 3; pg. 381, 7 pgs

Do you need Physical Therapy in Macomb County? Call Today!