Ankle Rehabilitation

Ankle Injury Assessment

Sprains are graded on a scale of 1 to 3 (mild, moderate, and severe), depending on the degree of tearing to the ligaments. In most cases, x-rays are performed to rule out a fracture or dislocation.

Grade Description

1 (Mild)

  • Minor tear
  • Minimal pain
  • Little or no joint instability
  • Mild pain with weight bearing activities
  • Slight loss of balance
  • 2 (MODERATE)

2 (Moderate)

  • Some tearing of the ligament fibres
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Moderate instability of the joint
  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Pain with weight bearing activities
  • Poor balance

3 (Severe)

  • Complete tear of the ligament
  • Severe pain followed by minimal pain
  • Gross instability of the joint
  • Severe swelling
  • Possible pain with weight bearing
  • Poor balance

Immediate Management

The immediate treatment of any soft tissue injury consists of the RICER protocol – rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral. RICE protocol should be followed for 48–72 hours. The aim is to reduce the bleeding and damage within the joint. The ankle should be rested in an elevated position with an ice pack applied for 20 minutes every two hours (never apply ice directly to the skin). A correctly sized compression bandage should be applied to limit bleeding and swelling in the joint. The No HARM protocol should also be applied – no heat, no alcohol, no running or activity, and no massage. This will ensure decreased bleeding and swelling in the injured area. A sports medicine professional should be seen as soon as possible after the injury to determine the extent of injury and to advise on treatment and rehabilitation. In evaluating the injury the sports medicine professional may order an x-ray or other testing to determine the extent of the injury.

Rehabilitation and Return To Play

Most ankle sprains heal within 2 to 6 weeks, however severe sprains many take as long as 12 weeks. A comprehensive rehabilitation program minimises the chance of the injury recurring and includes flexibility, balance, stretching, strengthening and sport specific exercises. During this time, taping or bracing the ankle may be prescribed to provide support until full function is regained. If, while performing a rehabilitation exercise, ankle joint pain or discomfort is experienced, stop immediately and reconsult a sports medicine professional. Players with significant ligament injuries (Grade 2 or 3) are advised to use bracing or protective taping when playing sport for a minimum of 6 to 12 months post injury.

Highett Podiatry's management protocol of ankle sprains.

Our highly qualified and knowledgeable podiatrists at Highett Podiatry will physically assess your ankle injury.  Our podiatrists can send you directly to radiology for X-rays and Ultrasound scans to determine the severity of your injury.  Getting the correct diagnosis is imperative in tailoring your rehabilitation program to get you back to your regular activity.  We use the latest equipment at Highett Podiatry to ensure your inflammation and healing are achieved quickly.  At Highett Podiatry, we have numerous soft tissue modalities, including therapeutic ultrasound, shockwave therapy, cupping, manipulation techniques and dry needling.  We also stock a full size range of moon boots, crutches, and ankle compression braces to aid in your ankle injury recovery.

Always Consult A Trained Professional

The information in this resource is general in nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult a trained professional practising in the area of medicine in relation to any injury or condition. You use or rely on information in this resource at your own risk and no party involved in the production of this resource accepts any responsibility for the information contained within it or your use of that information.