You may not be aware, but ankle injuries account for 22% of all sports injuries presenting to emergency departments, and are one of the most common lower limb sporting injuries.
Injuries can occur through damage to bone, ligaments or tendons in the ankle. Whilst there is an increased risk of injury during sporting activities, ankle injuries can also be the result of incidents in everyday life. For example, tripping or falling, navigating uneven ground, and twisting or rolling the ankle.
Signs and symptoms of ankle injuries can vary depending on the type of injury, but can include pain, swelling and bruising, as well as weakness and issues with bearing weight on the affected ankle.
Physiotherapists play a vital role in diagnosing ankle injuries, ensuring patients understand how to self-manage their injury (e.g. through taping, exercise), and deciding when a patient is ready to return to sport.
Ankle Injury Management
Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the management of lateral ankle injuries 5 recommend:
- Brief period of immobilisation (2-3 days; depending on symptom severity)
- Rest, ice, compression and elevation for swelling and symptom management
- External support from either a boot, brace or taping
- Exercise therapy involving balance training (early rehabilitation) and sport-specific activities (late-stage rehabilitation)
- Taping during sports activities for 12 months to reduce the risk of re-injury