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Ankle Sprains- Understanding the Injury

This week our Sports Podiatrist Natasha takes a closer look in to one of the more common injuries we see in the clinic- the ankle sprain!


Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries sustained in sport, particularly in sports involving landings and change of direction such as netball, football, basketball and tennis. Up to 70% of people will experience an ankle sprain during their lifetime, where the highest risk of sustaining another sprain is within 1 year of the first sprain.

Although an ankle sprain may at times seem like an insignificant injury, they have the highest re-injury rate of all lower limb injuries of the musculoskeletal system.

The high rate of re-injury is thought to be due to a number of factors including:

  • Failure to seek treatment following a sprain

  • Inadequate rehabilitation

  • Returning to sport or activity too soon after a sprain

On the other hand, some ankle sprains are much more serious and may involve one, or a combination of the following injuries

  • Fracture

  • Tear or partial tear of the ligaments supporting the outside of the ankle

  • Injury to the cartilage within the ankle joint (osteochondral lesion)

  • Injury or rupture to the fibrous ligament just above the ankle joint (syndesmosis injury)


The diagnosis of more serious ankle sprains often requires medical imaging, such as X-rays, ultrasound or MRI. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment results in improved long term outcomes; reducing the risk that the sprain will result in long term pain, instability (feeling like the ankle will give way), recurrent sprains and reduced ability to participate in activity.



Consultation with a sports podiatrist following an ankle sprain involves:

  • An accurate history taking, where the mechanism of injury provides important clues as to which structures in or around the ankle joint may be injured

  • A physical assessment, where the likelihood of fracture, or injury to specific supporting structures of the ankle can be determined using a range of clinical tests

  • Referral for imaging

  • Initial treatment tailored to the extent of the injury

  • A rehabilitation plan to reduce the long term impact of the sprain


Stay tuned for part II of our ankle sprain blog, where we will explore treatment for ankle sprains ranging from mild to more serious injuries.


To book in with our Sports podiatrist Natasha- click here.


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