A sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries caused by participation in sports. It refers to soft tissue damage (mainly ligaments) around the ankle, usually caused when the ankle is twisted inwards.
As well as damage to the ligaments, the capsule that surrounds the ankle joint can also be damaged. The damage causes bleeding within the tissues, which produces a swollen ankle that can be extremely painful.
Taping and bracing the ankle can help to reduce the risk of ankle sprains. Previous research has shown the injury incidence in people with taped ankles was 4.9 ankle sprains per 1000 participant games, compared with 2.6 ankle sprains per 1000 participant games in students wearing ankle braces. This compared with 32.8 ankle sprains per 1000 participant games in subjects that had no taping or bracing.
The use of an Ankle Brace is a convenient alternative to taping the ankle.
In the first few days following an ankle sprain it is important to follow the RICE protocol - rest, ice, compression and elevation (never apply ice directly to the skin). Ice packs for a period of twenty minutes every couple of hours may help with the pain but pain-relieving medication may also be necessary. It is important not to put too much weight on the damaged ankle, so walking should be avoided if it is painful.
Rehabilitation with a chartered physiotherapist significantly improves the level of ankle function. Wobble board training is designed to assist the re-education of the proprioceptive system. Previous research has suggested that patients with ankle instability who underwent wobble board training experienced significantly fewer recurrent sprains during a follow-up period than those who did not follow the training programme.