Ankle Ligament Sprains: Understanding, Treating, and Prevention
An Ankle ligament sprain is one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries and can affect people of all ages. Whether you’re an athlete or someone who enjoys everyday activities, a sudden twist or roll of the ankle can lead to injury of the ankle ligaments. In this article, we will explore the anatomy of the ankle, common causes of injury, treatment and management of ankle sprains and how to prevent further injury in the future..
The Anatomy Of The Ankle
The ankle contains three joints:
- The talocrural Joint
- The inferior tibiofibular joint
- The subtalar joint
The talocrural joint is the main joint in the ankle and allows the ankle to move so that the foot can point downwards (plantar flexion) or upwards (Dorsiflexion). The ankle joint is at its least stable when the foot is in plantar flexion with most of the stability of the ankle being formed by the lateral ankle ligaments.
It is these ligaments that are most commonly sprained when we roll, or go over our ankle. These three ligaments are named:
- Anterior Talofibular Ligament
- Calcaneofibular Ligament
- Posterior Tibiofibular Ligament
The Medial ligament of the ankle (also known as the Deltoid Ligament) is much less commonly injured.
Causes of Ankle Ligament Sprains
Due to the relative instability of the lateral ankle joint and the supporting ligaments around 80% of ankle sprains are caused by inversion injuries (foot turns in the way, “rolling your ankle”).
Top causes include:
1. Awkward Landings: Jumping or landing on an uneven surface can cause the ankle to twist or roll unnaturally.
2. Sports Injuries: High-impact sports, such as basketball, soccer, or tennis, increase the risk of ankle sprains due to sudden changes in direction or contact with other players.
3. Tripping or Falling: A simple misstep off a curb or uneven ground can lead to an ankle sprain.
4. Weak Ankles: Poor strength and stability in the ankle joint make it more susceptible to sprains.
Treating Ankle Ligament Sprains
Correct management is essential to facilitate a speedy recovery and prevent long-term complications following an ankle sprain. Our experienced Physiotherapists can assess your ankle injury and guide you through the rehabilitation process.
THE PEACE & LOVE APPROACH
Over the decades there have been many different acronyms advising on the best care of acute injuries such as ankle sprains (RICE, then to PRICE, to POLICE). Most recent research now suggests a “PEACE & LOVE” approach. The PEACE part refers to immediate care with the LOVE for the subsequent management.
One of the main differences in this advice from the PRICE approach is reducing the use of anti inflammatories in acute injury management. The various phases of inflammation help repair damaged soft tissues. Therefore inhibiting inflammation using medications may negatively affect long-term tissue healing, especially when higher dosages are used.
Once the acute swelling and pain have settled we can move on to LOAD. This promotes and active approach to rehabilitating your ankle injury, loading the joint optimally without exacerbating your symptoms, promoting aerobic exercises and working with you on a rehabilitation program to help to restore mobility, strength and proprioception early after injury.
Preventing Ankle Ligament Sprains
While it may not always be possible to prevent ankle sprains entirely, you can take proactive measures to reduce the risk of injury:
1. Strengthening Exercises: Regularly engage in exercises that target the muscles supporting the ankle joint to enhance stability.
2. Balance and Proprioception Training: Incorporate balance and proprioception exercises into your fitness routine to improve ankle joint control and reduce the risk of sprains.
3. Good Footwear: Wear appropriate footwear that provides ample ankle support, especially during physical activities and sports.
Ankle ligament sprains are common injuries that can disrupt your daily life and physical activities. Our Physiotherapists at ProMOTION Physiotherapy have a vast amount of experience in treating this injury. Taking an active approach and optimally loading the joint and surrounding muscles under our expert guidance will help get you back to the activities you love as quickly as possible!
Wishing you PEACE & LOVE 🙂
The ProMOTION Team