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Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries are common, often occurring during sports, but can also happen during day to day activities. They occur when the ankle has been put through a greater series of movements than is normal, which stretches the ligaments and soft tissue. Most ankle injuries will be sprains or strains, with fractures occurring less frequently.

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain refers to damage of the ligaments around the ankle joint, which results in ankle pain and swelling around the site of injury. Sometimes bruising will also be present.

Most sprains will heal within six weeks provided they receive the right care and attention. In the early stages it is important to follow the “RICE” method of treatment:

  • Rest: For the first few days, reduce the amount of walking you do and gently exercise the ankle regularly to avoid stiffness. This helps to prevent further injury and allows the healing process to begin.
  • Ice: Use an ice pack on your ankle for 10 minutes every 2 hours for the first few days. Then use the ice pack 3 times a day until the swelling goes down. This helps to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compression: Wear an Ankle Support during the day to help support your ankle and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keep your ankle raised above the level of your hips for the first few days. This helps reduce swelling and pain. Severe sprains should be assessed by a medical professional.


High Ankle Sprain

A High Ankle Sprain refers to damage to the ligaments of the ankle Syndesmosis, which is the joint between the Tibia (shin bone) and Fibula (splint bone). Characteristic symptoms include pain just above the ankle and swelling around the area.

This sprain should also be treated with the “RICE” method. However severe High Ankle Sprains may require surgery. Physiotherapy treatment is usually enough to treat moderate sprains.

Ankle Fracture

Ankle bone fractures occur usually when the ankle twists under the weight of the body. An ankle fracture presents with ankle swelling, deformity, pain and loss of function. The ankle must be reviewed by an orthopaedic doctor, who will carry out an x-ray and CT scan and devise a plan to re-set the bones and restore ankle alignment.

Walking should be carried out upon recovery as soon as the orthopaedic doctor determines it is safe to do so. This is in order to prevent muscle wastage, joint stiffness and degeneration of cartilage. Patients can use a Walker to aid them.

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