The ankle joint has three bones that are precisely shaped to interlock and give stability. Strong bands of connective tissue called ligaments reinforce the joint and help hold the bones together. These ligaments prevent too much movement of the joint.
We have extensive experience in the treatment and rehabilitation and preventative management for Ankle pain and injuries.
Below provides a list of common the most common ankle conditions. Each patient requires an individual assessment to determine the exact type of injury, it’s causes and any rehabilitation program required. During an appointment with either a Doctor or a Physio you can expect the following assessment questions:
History of the pain, including location, severity, referred pain, things that make the pain worse or better.
The common conditions below and the associated information have been produced as a guide only. They do not replace the judgement of a clinician. The below information should never be relied on as a substitute for proper assessment with respect to the particular circumstances of each patient. Patients should consult with an appropriate clinician as soon as practicable post injury to avoid complications.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. A sudden jolt, roll or twist can overstretch and tear the supporting ligaments of the joint, causing pain and swelling.
This is a common injury, particularly in activities that require running, jumping and change of direction (such as basketball and netball). Some people are particularly prone to recurring ankle sprains.
The symptoms of ankle sprain include:
Swelling - the ankle can swell in minutes or over several hours.
Pain in the ankle joint when trying to move it and when walking, especially when the knee goes forward over the foot.
Suggestions for immediate treatment of an ankle sprain include:
Stop your activity.
Rest the injured joint (may even require crutches for a day or two)
Immediate application of icepacks and then every two hours, applied for 15-20 minutes.
Bandage the joint firmly, and extend the wrapping or tubigrip up the calf and down the foot.
Raise the ankle above heart height whenever possible.
Avoid exercise, heat, alcohol and massage in the first 48 hours, as these can all exacerbate swelling.
Physiotherapy treatments may include:
Exercise programs to improve mobility of the joint
Exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle (peroneal muscles)
Advice on taping and ankle braces for use during activity (See video)
The use of a wobble board or trampoline to encourage balance and improve the proprioceptive deficit.
There is strong evidence from research that starting this sort of exercise program in the first days after ankle sprain improves ankle function and early return to weight bearing activity such as walking and return to sport. If persistent instability does not respond to comprehensive physical therapy, surgery may be considered.
For a detailed guide to ankle injury management you can download a fact sheet here
One of the more common areas that a fracture of the ankle may occur is of the distal fibula. Breaks in this area can happen to anyone and can be the result of high impaction (jumping or falling from high), rapid over twisting of the ankle or from a sharp blow to the area. Children can be particularly susceptible to this type of break as their ligaments are stronger than their bones until early adolescence.
A break in this area would produce substantial swelling and pain to touch. It would be difficult to weight bear and there may be an obvious bony deformity in the area of the break. If the foot becomes very pale and appears to have lost blood circulation immediate emergency hospital care should be provided.
Should X-rays show a fracture, there are a number of treatment options that ultimately depend on the severity and location of the fracture.
Common conservative treatments that your Physio may administer are:
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
CAM walker boot for 3-4 weeks
Full half leg cast
If the break is severe or conservative treatment options are not progressing as hoped, your Physio may refer you to a Sports Physician or Surgeon at TSM.
Some break in this area may require plate insertion or corrective surgery if healing was not optimal.
Post surgery rehabilitation time can be 9 weeks post break. And it is possible that it can take up to 2 years to understand final functional result post surgery.