Ankle Sprains (Lateral Ligament Injuries) FAQs

What is it?

Your lateral ligaments are the ligaments on the outside of your ankle – most commonly the ones injured if you “sprain”, “twist” or “roll” your ankle.

How is it injured?

Injury occurs when you roll over or twist the ankle inwards.  It can occur from walking/running on an uneven surface, from landing awkwardly from a jump, or from slips and falls among other things.

Is it common?

Lateral ankle injuries are reported to account for up to one third of all injuries sustained in sport.  Sports like volleyball and basketball along with field sports are among the most common sports these injuries are seen in.  Added to this the frequency of injury in the normal population and we begin to see how common it really is.


Invariably the patient will be limping or even unable to walk after the injury.  The ankle will vary from slightly “puffy” to hot and very swollen.  If it’s a few days since the injury there may be bruising present.

What to do?

Follow the PRICE guidelines in the advice section of our website.  If you are unable to put any weight on the leg and/or the pain is severe you may need to go to the hospital to get an x-ray.

What can we do?

By doing a thorough examination of the ankle your Chartered Physiotherapist will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and an approximate idea of how long it will take to heal.  In certain cases if there are other structures injured they will refer you back to your GP if they feel x-rays or scans may be required.  Our Chartered Physiotherapists will advise you on the best treatment and rehabilitation plan to ensure you recover from this injury both safely and speedily.  They will guide you through a functional and, if required, sports specific rehabilitation program that will reduce the chance of a recurrence.

Will it happen again?

There is some evidence to suggest that after sustaining an ankle injury from sport there is up to a 40% chance of re-injury within 6 months.  Studies have highlighted certain areas that if left unaddressed may increase your risk of re-injury – these include: reduced ankle movement, poor strength and reduced balance.

While the PRICE regime is important initially, it has been shown that a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is a critical part in the treatment of ankle sprains. Re-training proprioception and balance is an essential aspect of rehabilitation and has been shown to reduce the incidence of ankle re-injury by 50%.

For further information & treatment

At Mid West Physiotherapy we are experts in diagnosing and rehabilitating these injuries in everyone from elite sports people to weekend warriors and beyond.  To book an appointment please contact us.

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