Hi, I am Kerensa McKie at Physio and Therapies ltd. Today I am going to talk about a problem that has been coming up a lot recently …… what to do when or if you sprain your ankle.

Amazingly 25,000 people in the UK sprain their ankle every day!

So, I will be giving you 3 top tips for what to do to aid your recovery from this common injury.

Recently I have had several people coming in for help after slipping and twisting their ankle and they have all said that they did not know if they should have applied heat or cold to help.

So, what is a sprained ankle? This is when we over stretch the ligament that runs down the outside of our ankle, causing damage to it. This usually happens when we ‘go over’ on our ankle. It can be anything from a slight pull to the ligament being completely torn in two.

After a sprain the ankle will be painful if you try to walk or move it and it will begin to swell. Later you will usually find a classic bruise forms along the side of your foot, this may extend to outer side of the top of the foot or sole in some cases. Some of you will be able to walk and others won’t. In the bad cases the sprain might be bad enough to require crutches, so you can move about and some of you may even require a cast or special boot for a few weeks to help it to heal. It came be difficult to know if you have broken an ankle or sprained, it so if in doubt go to A & E and get it checked. Of the last 3 people coming in who presented with symptoms that made me send them for x-ray. 2 had fractures and one didn’t.

It takes at least 6 weeks for things to begin to begin to start to join back up in a ligament. For most of you, you will find the first 6 weeks are painful and then things should start to settle. Be warned it takes a full 16 weeks or more; if everything goes well, for the soft tissues to heal back to be a ligament. Confusingly some of you will find the pain goes quickly while others will find the pain can linger for many months and it isn’t uncommon to find discomfort lingering for a bit once we get you back to your normal activities and sports. This is totally normal but doesn’t mean you are healing any quicker or slower than someone else.

It is very important to follow a plan of protecting the ligament to allow it to heal as it is easy to damage the healing structure and set your recovery back. Recovery isn’t complete just because the pain has gone. With proper rehabilitation advice and treatment, we aim to make sure your recovery means you do not repeat the sprain due to weakness, poor co-ordination or lack of the ligament healing after the initial injury.

So here are my top tips for your sprained ankle.

TIP 1: As soon after injury as you can apply ice. Either a sports first aid ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp cloth and placed onto the injured area for 10-20 mins every 1-2 hrs. Do this for 48-72hrs post injury or until the swelling goes.

This minimises the bleeding and swelling that occurs after injury, helping our healing processes.

Tip 2: Protect it from further injury. Especially you…yes you know who you are… footballers…who ‘play through it’ or runners who ‘finish the race’. Running on a damaged ankle risks making things worse, slowing your recovery and making a mild injury become a severe problem with more pain and slower return to activities.

Tip 3: Use a compression stocking and rest with the ankle up to stop further swelling. This also helps to minimise swelling and helps with pain.

As soon as possible see your Physio. Here at P&T we can help treat the pain and swelling and structure a rehab plan based on your individual needs and goals whether you are a couch potato, avid sports fanatic or just need to walk the dog safely and pain free.

So if you and anyone you know might find this information useful please like and share our page or share this post so they can benefit from this advice.


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