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Winter Sport Injuries: Ankle Sprain

With the winter sport season in full swing one of the most common injuries seen in the clinic are Ankle Sprains. Physiotherapist Alyce has put together this blog to help clients understand the diagnosis and what the management plan is for Ankle Sprains.


An injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle when the foot rolls, turns or twists in

an awkward direction, resulting in stretching or tearing of the ligaments.

What are the causes of Ankle Sprain?

  • Ligament injury most commonly occurs in sports requiring change of direction, landing and uneven surfaces.

  • Ligament injury can also result from a contact injury, in which an object forces the foot into an end range position

  • Damage most commonly occurs to the lateral ligaments (outside of the ankle), when the ankle rolls out

  • The most common risk factor for an ankle sprain is previous history of ankle sprain

What are the main signs & symptoms of Ankle sprains

  • Pain in the lateral or medial side of the ankle

  • Bruising and swelling of the ankle and foot

  • Tenderness to touch

  • Feelings of instability

  • Difficulty weight-bearing through affected leg

Differential diagnosis

  • Fracture

  • Ankle Syndesmosis Injury

  • Ankle Impingement

  • Peroneal Tendinopathy

PROmotion Assessment Tools & Outcome measures

  • Subjective examination addressing mechanism of injury, aggravating positions and 24hr pain

  • Assessment of ability to weight bear, ankle range of motion, ligament tests and palpation of the bones and ligaments to rule out need for XR or further imaging

  • Assessment of balance, lower limb strength and control

  • Assessment of sporting footwear

Management options for Ankle Sprain

  • Referral for XR if fracture is suspected.

  • Period of relative rest from sport +/- immobilisation in a moon boot/crutches/taping dependent on extent of injury

  • If applicable manual therapy to improve ankle range of motion, reduce pain and increase function

  • Graduated home exercise program consisting of range of motion, strengthening and balance exercises for the ankle and lower limb.

  • Advice regarding return to activity and load management as injury progresses.

  • Management may also include referral to a sports doctor for review if any further medical intervention such as imaging, differential diagnosis and assistance with management plan.

If you need some help managing an Ankle Sprain PROmotion has Physiotherapy appointments available Monday-Saturday with before and after work/school availability. To book online click here, or call the clinic on 9284 4405.


Doherty C., Delahunt E., Caulfield B., Hertel J., Ryan J., Bleakley C. (2014). The incidence and prevalence of ankle sprain injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective

epidemiological studies. Sports Medicine; 44: 123-140.

McGovern R.P., Martin R.L. (2016). Managing ankle ligament sprains and tears: current

opinion. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine; 7: 33-42.

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