Ankle Sprains

What is the anatomy of the ankle?

ankle joint

The ankle joint is composed of 3 bones: the tibia, fibula and talus. Ligaments provide the ankle with stability.  Ligaments are like thick elastic bands and hold a joint together by attaching one bone to another. Muscles that come from below the knee and attach to the bones of the foot help to move the ankle.

What is an ankle spain?

Sprains are injuries to ligaments.  An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments of the ankle are over stretched, partially torn or completely torn. This occurs when foot moves beyond its normal range of motion.

Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe. Depending on the amount of ligament that is damaged, an ankle sprain is classified as: grade 1= mild sprain, grade 2= moderate sprain, grade 3= severe sprain.  Most ankle sprains are due to injury of the ligaments on the outside (lateral side) of the ankle.

lat ankle strain

What is the immediate treatment after an ankle sprain?

The RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) method should be used as soon as possible and for the next 72 hours after the injury. RICE helps to decrease pain and swelling around the ankle joint and promotes healing. The use of a gait aid, such as crutches, may be required depending on the severity of the sprain.

How long does it take for an ankle sprain to heal?

Most ankle sprains will heal in 3-8 weeks. The move severe the sprain, the longer it takes the ligaments to heal. Physiotherapy can help to decrease pain, increase ankle movement and get you back to normal activities more quickly.

What is the S.M.A.R.T. approach?

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association recommends the S.M.A.R.T. approach to assist early recovery and rehabilitation of most ankle sprains. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain, Talk to a physiotherapist.

STRETCH: Stretching will help to regain full ankle movement, increase circulation to aid the healing process, maintain muscle flexibility and strength.

MOVE: The severity of the ankle sprain will determine when and how much you start moving the joint. A physiotherapist will develop a progressive exercise program to promote range of motion and muscle strengthening while preventing further damage.

ADD IT UP: When recovering from an ankle sprain, you need to consider the effect of all the activities you do during the entire day. Planing time for rest during the day is important for continued healing.

REDUCE STRAIN: There are a number of things that can be done to protect the ankle when it is healing to reduce the risk of re-injury. These include: wearing an ankle brace, having a physiotherapist tape your ankle, taking part in a progressive exercise program, avoid activities on slippery or uneven surfaces, warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

TALK TO A PHYSIOTHERAPIST: A physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment of your ankle and plan a personalized rehabilitation program to help reduce swelling and pain, improve range of motion, strengthen the ankle and help you attain your rehabilitation goals.  For more information or to set up an appointment, contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via phone 905-637-1414 or email: