Frequently Asked Questions on Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is an injury to the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that surround and connect the bones of the leg to the foot. The injury typically happens when you accidentally twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together. Most commonly, injury occurs to the outer part of ankle joint, to a ligament called the Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL), when the ankle rolls inwards and the ligament is overstretched. Less commonly, injuries can also occur to the inner part of the ankle joint, to the deltoid ligament. This occurs if the foot rolls outwards and the ligament is overstretched.

An ankle sprain may range from a small partial tear to a complete rupture.



  1. What are the common symptoms of Ankle Sprains?
  2. What causes Ankle Sprains?
  3. Ankle sprains are common - do I have to see a physiotherapist for it?
  4. Diagnosing Ankle Sprains
  5. Treating Ankle Sprains
  6. Ankle Sprains - Does it require surgery?
  7. Preventing Ankle Sprains


    Q1: What are the common symptoms of Ankle Sprains?

    • Recollection of an incident when you twisted or landed awkwardly on the ankle
    • Subsequent pain, swelling and bruising over the injury site
    • Difficulty in weight bearing and restriction to the movement of the ankle joint
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    Q2: What causes Ankle Sprains?

    Ankle sprains can occur due to several factors;

    • Ankle sprains can occur in sports that require jumping and rapid changes in direction.
    • Walking on uneven surfaces
    • Congenital factors: Some people are born with looser ligaments, making them more prone to strains
    • History of previous ankle sprains. This causes the ligaments to be looser.
    • Poor strength and balance in the ankle joint and leg.
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    Q3: Ankle sprains are common - do I have to see a physiotherapist for it?

    Yes, it is best to see a physiotherapist when an ankle sprain occurs. If you do not treat the injury, you will be more prone to repeated ankle sprains, leading to further pain and disability.

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    Q4: Diagnosing Ankle Sprains

    Your physiotherapist will suspect an ankle sprain based on your clinical history and the findings from a series of clinical tests. X-ray, MRI or CT scan are often required to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other injuries, particularly fractures.

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    Q5: Treating Ankle Sprains

    There are 4 ways in which ankle sprains can be treated effectively;

    • Pain management – Rest, ice, compression, elevation, advice regarding anti-inflammatory medication
    • Restoring full movement of the ankle joint
    • Restoring full strength of ankle joint
    • Restoring good single leg balance

    Achieving each of these will be done by a variety of manual treatments, stretching and strengthening exercises Your physiotherapist will discuss your goals, time frames and training schedules with you to optimise you for a complete return to sports, work and daily activities.

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    Q6: Ankle Sprains - Does it require surgery?

    In most cases, ankle sprains can be treated conservatively with physiotherapy. However, if there has been sufficient damage to one or more of the ligaments with resultant ankle instability and pain that does not resolve with physiotherapy, surgery to repair the ligaments and stabilise the ankle joint might be necessary.

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    Q7: Preventing Ankle Sprains

    Wearing supportive footwear that is appropriate to your foot type for physical activity will help reduce the risk of an ankle sprain. It is also important to stretch your calf muscles before and after activity. Performing strength and balance of the foot and ankle also helps, especially if you engage in vigorous activity.

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