Sports Medicine Insight – Lateral Ankle Sprain

Dr Chris Donohue is a GP at Clifton Beach Medical. As well as having experience in the full breadth of general practice and family medicine, Chris has a keen interest in sports medicine.

 

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Sports Medicine Insight – Lateral Ankle Sprain

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I would like to share some insight into a common injury that we see in our practice which is a lateral ankle sprain, commonly caused when an athlete changes direction quite quickly and inverts rolls their ankle damaging the lateral or outer structures of the ankle.

So the common symptoms that a patient would present with this injury would be swelling, pain, and an inability to bear weight through that ankle.

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With lateral ankle sprains there are some potential complications. The 1st complication that should be excluded is actually an ankle fracture. Once an ankle fracture has been excluded, it’s important to rehabilitate the ankle post-injury to try and prevent long-term consequences – which are chronic pain, instability, and also anyone who injures their ankle has an increased risk of recurrent ankle sprains. It is part of the management plan is to help try this happening in the future.

My approach to lateral ankle sprains initially, is to reduce the swelling and inflammation and we do that through what often get used in acute sporting injuries, which is the RICE protocol, which is to rest the injury with ice, compression and elevation.

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After that initial swelling had settled, the real key to lateral ankle sprains is early rehabilitation to try and restore the ankle to its optimal function again, with an ultimate goal to get the patient back to sports as quickly as effectively as possible.

These types of rehabilitation programs involves improving range of motion, improving strength, proprioception, introducing sports specific exercises and ultimately returning the athlete to their form of sport.

I encourage all my patients to either weigh an external brace or to strap their ankle for 6-12 months to help prevent this recurrent injury.

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So the key point takeaway points from this in regards to lateral ankle sprain is to see a Doctor early to exclude fracture. Early rehabilitation is the key to returning your ankle to optimal function and ultimately returning to sport. But also to have your ankle reviewed if the ankle is not improving the way you would have liked to ensure there is nothing else going on.