Sprained ankle

Ankle sprains are caused by a severe twisting or force on the ankle bones, often resulting in excessive stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

If they’re not properly treated, ankle sprains may develop into long-term problems.

The most usual symptoms of ankle sprains are pain, swelling, and bruising. A number of treatments are used to help the healing process, including resting and elevating the ankle and applying ice. Bandages also may be used to restrict joint movement and support the injury.  Serious ankle sprains can require surgery to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments.

An ankle sprain can often be followed by recurring or chronic pain on the outside part of the ankle. This condition is known as chronic lateral ankle pain.

Symptoms
These include:

  • Ankle instability.
  • Difficulty walking on uneven ground or in high heels.
  • Pain, sometimes intense, on the outer side of the ankle.
  •  Stiffness, swelling and/or tenderness

Causes
Although ankle sprains are the most common cause of chronic lateral ankle pain, other causes may include:

  • A fracture in one of the bones that make up the ankle joint.
  • Arthritis of the ankle joint.
  • Injury to the nerves that pass through the ankle.
  • Scar tissue in the ankle after a sprain. 
  • Torn or inflamed tendon.

Treatments
These include:

  • Over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.
  • Physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles and restore range of motion.
  • Ankle braces or other supports.
  • Steroid medication.
  • Immobilisation to allow the bone to heal (in cases of fractures).