So I’ve Sprained My Ankle, Now What?

By: Brittany Kafka

Your foot caught on the curb you didn’t see, you lost your footing hiking, or you just rolled over your ankle while walking, now what? You’re probably suspecting that you’ve sprained your ankle, and your plan is to stay off it for a couple of days, ice it, and once you’re pain-free you should be good to go, right?

Unfortunately, just because we can name an ankle sprain or know what the injury is, doesn’t mean that the standard Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (RICE) is the best way to manage it. We want to treat the ankle initially with Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression, Elevation (POLICE). However, even once the initial pain has subsided, it is important to continue with a strength and balance training program to prevent ankle sprains from recurring in the future.

How do I know if I sprained my ankle?

Symptoms of a sprained ankle often follow a bad landing or rolling of the foot and can include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain at the outside, inside, or front of the ankle
  • Swelling
  • Discolouration
  • Difficulty with weight-bearing
  • Tenderness to touch

What happens when I sprain my ankle?

Most often, when we sprain our ankle, it is a result of an inversion sprain- meaning the ankle rolls inward. This movement causes injury to the ligaments on the outside of our ankle that help with the stability of the foot. These ligaments are called the Anterior Talofibular Ligament, Calcaneofibular Ligament, and Posterior Talofibular Ligament. Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain, one or more of these structures may be damaged. As a result of the pain and injury to the ligaments, range of motion is often reduced, ankle strength is limited, balance is impaired, and functional tasks may become challenging.

Where to start?

If you think you have sprained your ankle, it is best to come in and get a physiotherapy assessment to confirm your diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan to manage pain and restore function. In the meantime, start by following the POLICE guidelines.

Protect: Rest the ankle from high-intensity activities to prevent further damage. Use crutches for the first few days if unable to weight-bear without limping.

Optimal Loading: Maintain gentle mobility of the ankle by pumping (flexing the foot up & down) and drawing circles with the ankle. Walk short distances as tolerated if able to weight bear without limping.

Ice: Ice the ankle for 15 minutes on,15 minutes off a couple of times a day for the first few days following the injury. Be sure to avoid directly putting the ice against your skin.

Compression: Use a tensor bandage or soft brace to create compression at the ankle and decrease swelling.

Elevation: While icing the foot, keep it elevated above the pelvis to help decrease swelling.

What next?

If you’ve had an ankle sprain, book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist, Brittany Kafka, at Synergy East, today! She facilitates a safe, engaging, and welcoming environment to make physiotherapy fun and get you back on your feet!

You can call us to book a consultation at (416) 551-8715, or simply book online.

Brittany Kafka

Brittany Kafka

Physiotherapist - BSc Hons (Kin), MSc PT

Brittany is dedicated to taking an evidence-based, holistic, and individualized approach with patients. She focuses on helping patients with injuries as well as patients with short and long term pain to achieve their goals and return to movement that is meaningful to them. It is important to her that her patients feel heard and are able to take an active role in their recovery. She will use a collaborative approach with her patients following a comprehensive assessment, to help create a unique and individualized plan that involves a combination of hands-on manual therapy, exercise, and education. Brittany is passionate about providing patients with the education and tools they need to understand and manage their conditions. If you are looking for a physiotherapist you can book with her HERE

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