Physiotherapy for Ankle Injuries


The ankle is a very complex and strong joint that bears the full weight of the body and aids in performing various movements such as inversion, eversion, flexion and extension. Forces that are exerted on an ankle while performing physical activities, such as jogging, sprinting and jumping, can injure the ankle bone and its surrounding ligaments. The most common sports-related ankle injuries include lateral inversion sprains, ankle fractures, Achilles injuries, and stress fractures.

The lateral ankle is situated on the outside of the foot. Lateral inversion sprains refer to partial or complete tears in the ligaments surrounding the lateral ankle when the foot is turned inward or outward. This positioning of the foot forces the weight of the entire body to the outer edge of the foot and the unnatural stress imposed on the outside of the ball of the foot tears the ligaments that hold the joint in place. A lateral inversion sprain is a common injury among people who participate in sports that require sudden starting and stopping; a lot of running; or significant amounts of jumping.

Ankle fractures often result from physical trauma such as a direct blow to the ankle. Contact sports such as football and basketball put athletes at a higher risk of sustaining ankle fractures than noncontact sports. Rolling over on the outside of the ankle may break an ankle. In some cases, an ankle fracture may also occur due to an awkward landing. Medial Malleolus fractures and Lateral Malleolus fractures can occur together, or with fractures of the tibia.

Common Achilles injuries include Achilles tendon ruptures and Achilles tendinopathy. An Achilles tendon rupture is a condition in which the ligaments of the Achilles tear due to biomechanical issues such as muscle imbalance, improper foot alignment and poor footwear. Achilles tendinopathy refers to an overuse injury of the Achilles.

A stress fracture is one of the most common injuries in sports. Stress fractures refer to tiny cracks in the anklebone, which is mainly an overuse injury. When the muscles of an athlete become fatigued, they will not absorb added shock. Rather, they transfer the overload of the stress to the bone, causing minor cracks in the joints. These fractures are caused by the repetitive application of a force such as running long distances, performing intense training sessions without rest, wearing faulty footwear, or repeatedly jumping up and down.

Clinically it may be very difficult to differentiate a severe sprain from a fracture and an X-ray is always needed for the physiotherapists at i Physio Perth to confirm the diagnosis. One of our physiotherapy experts can also order CT and MRI scanning for fracture diagnosis and assessment of intra-articular injuries.

Simple sprains and common Achilles injuries can be treated with rest, ice therapy, heat, electrical stimulation, compression, elevation and prescribed exercises. Tenderness over the ankle area associated with sprains may require sports massage, which we offer at i Physio Perth. In severe sprains, the ankle is treated by immobilizing the joint in a below-knee cast or pneumatic brace, which may speed recovery. Supervised range-of-motion, strengthening and stretching exercises prescribed by an i Physio Perth physiotherapist also aid normal healing and reduce the chance of re-injury.

Please do not hesitate to contact i Physio Perth on 9444 8729 if you have injured your ankle and require an assessment or treatment plan.