How podiatry can help your ankle sprain

person in black shoes strapping foot with bandage

Although the term “ankle sprain” can include injuries to the outside, inside or above the ankle, around 80% affect the outside (lateral) ankle ligaments. This is known as an inversion sprain, or what many of us would call a rolled or twisted ankle. A rolled ankle is the most common sporting injury and something most of us will have experienced at least once.

Inversion sprains can affect your tendons, nerves, bones, and most commonly, ligaments. They can vary in severity, from mildly strained ligaments and tendons, to complete tears and even broken bones, and symptoms can include:

  • Mild to severe swelling of the ankle and foot
  • Bruising which may extend down the foot
  • Mild to severe pain – dull ache, sharp pain, pins and needles, or even numbness
  • Loss of balance and stability
  • Difficulty weightbearing and walking

Podiatrists aren’t usually the first port of call for acute ankle injuries, with approximately 230,000 Australian’s visiting their GP with an ankle sprain. However, around 40% of individuals who sustain an inversion sprain develop chronic ankle instability, also described as “weak ankles”.  And that’s where a podiatrist can help.

So how does podiatry help?

Your podiatrist can perform thorough biomechanical and gait assessments, and use this information to develop an effective treatment plan. Given that twisted ankles usually occur when we’re walking or running, having this assessed makes sense. Proper examination provides valuable information in not only managing chronic injury, but also in preventing future injury.

Contributing factors your podiatrist will look at to assess ankle instability and chronic ankle pain include:

  • Gait patterns (how your feet and legs move when you walk)
  • Leg/foot alignment and posture
  • Footwear and any orthotic supports (if prescribed previously) – so remember to bring them with you to your appointment
  • Areas of muscle weakness or imbalance

If you’ve suffered from an ankle sprain, or feel like you have ankle instability, it may be a perfect time to visit the podiatrists at the Health Hub. Make sure you bring your regular footwear for the most thorough examination.

For serious injuries requiring urgent medical attention such as bone breaks, dislocation, or severe pain and swelling, please see your GP or nearest hospital’s emergency department. Alternatively, contact 13HEALTH for advice.