Ankle Sprains

What is an Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain is an acute injury that causes damage to the ankle ligaments. This results in either a partial or complete tear of the ligaments and leads to pain and swelling around the ankle. Ankle sprains most commonly occur on the outside of the ankle (lateral ankle sprain) but can also occur on the inside of the ankle (medial ankle sprain). If the forces during the acute injury are large then sometimes a bony fracture may result at the ligament attachment site as the ligament tears away from the bone.

Signs & Symptoms
  • Swelling around the ankle
  • Bruising around the ankle
  • Pain or tenderness around the ankle
  • Limping or unable to put weight on the affected ankle
  • There may be associated ankle instability
  • There may be restricted ankle range of motion
Causes of an ankle sprain

Ligaments help stabilise joints and prevent excess joint movement. An ankle sprains occurs when the joint is forced beyond its range of motion causing injury and tears to the ligaments. If the forces during an ankle injury are large then sometimes an associated bony fracture may result at the ligament attachment site as the ligament ruptures from the bone.

Typical causes of a sprained ankle include:

  •  Twisting or rolling your ankle during a fall
  • Twisting or rolling your ankle after landing awkwardly from jumping
  • Another person forcefully stepping or landing on your ankle during sport

Ankle sprains most commonly occur to the lateral ankle joint (outside of ankle) and but can also occur to the medial ankle joint (inside of ankle joint). Lateral ankle sprains are usually the result of an inversion sprain (when your ankle rolls out too much), whilst medial ankle sprains are usually the result of an eversion sprain (when your ankle rolls in excessively).

The ankle is one of the most commonly injured body parts during sports. Athletes in sports that involve repetitive jumping and landing (e.g. Australian rules football, basketball, netball) or repetitive side to side movements (e.g. tennis) are more prone to ankle sprains. Athletes with poor foot biomechanics may be more prone to chronic and repetitive ankle sprains. Poor footwear is also a common risk factor in ankle sprains.


In mild ankle sprain cases further diagnostic studies are usually not required. In more severe ankle sprain cases referral for a x-ray, musculoskeletal ultrasound scan or MRI may be required to diagnose the full extent of the injury and to check for other associated injuries such as fractures and tendon tears. Our podiatrists can refer for these scans without the need for a GP visit.

Treatment for ankle sprains
  • CAM Walkers (Moon boots) to help immobilise the ankle
  • Strapping
  • Ultrasound & laser therapy
  • Ankle strengthening
  • Ankle braces
  • Orthotics

Orthotics help address biomechanical faults and can help make your ankles more stable and less prone to chronic ankle sprains.

If you have suffered from any ankle injury acute or chronic it is important to see one of our podiatrists. Often other problems like fractures get easily overlooked and a podiatrist is best placed at giving you the right rehabilitation for ankle injuries.