AnkleAnkle ligament injury – what is it?

Ankle ligament injuries fall into two categories, medial (inner) and lateral (outer). When the ankle rolls in (like in the picture below on the left) the outer ligaments are stressed and if the force is sufficient then it will result in tearing of the ligaments. This is the most common type of ankle injury (90%). When the ankle rolls out (the image on the right) this injures the ligaments on the inner surface of the ankle, this type of injury is far less common. During both of these types of injuries, there is a twisting of the ligaments and the surrounding joint capsule. The amount of damage is indicated by a Grading system with I being mild and III being complete tear. Grading of injuries help to establish an appropriate prognosis and the rate which rehabilitation can be progessed.

AnkleAnkle ligament injury – How do I know if I have it?

The mechanism of injury is important in determining exactly which ligaments are injured; a thorough history will be taken by your physiotherapist to determine this. After the injury however there will be rapid swelling and localised tenderness around the ankle area. Often bruising will appear a few days later.

Ankle ligament injury – How can Physiotherapy help me?

Initial management follows the RICE principle, that being, rest, ice, compressive and elevation. This limits the swelling and helps limit further damage via scar tissue formation. After the swelling and pain reduces, a specific rehabilitation program will begin, involving increasing ranges of motion, proprioception and strength in the area.

AnkleAnkle ligament injury – How long until I am better?

The grading of the injury will determine the recovery and the time to return to sport. Generally:

  • Grade I will take 1 -3 weeks,
  • Grade II will take 3 – 6 weeks
  • Grade III will take 4 – 8 weeks
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