NCTV Episode 42

Continuing with the series of bitesize health tip videos which can be found here on my YouTube Channel, this episode, includes:-

  • Mechanisms of injury
  • Prognosis
  • Rehabilitation
  • PRICE & HARM advice
  • Prevention tips


If you’d prefer to read the content within, rather than watch the video, then feel free to read the transcript, as follows:-

Hello and welcome to NCTV Episode 42 which is all about Ankle Sprains.

So why talk about Ankle sprains I hear you ask? Well, as my oldest brother Graham can attest to and myself from my footballing days, they are one of the most commonly sprained joints in the body. The actual injury can be more complex than you’d think and as a result, it requires proper management to ensure a full recovery.

So what is an ankle sprain? It’s an overstretch or tear in one or more of ligaments in the ankle, usually the outer ones.

The ligaments themselves are slightly elastic bands of tissue that keep the ankle bones in place and because the ankle is responsible for both weight-bearing and mobility, it is particularly susceptible to injury. Also, the ankle is a relatively small joint and has to withstand large forces exerted when walking, running and jumping, so it is especially susceptible to sprain on uneven surfaces.

Most ankle sprains happen when the ankle twists or rolls suddenly, usually in a rapid and uncontrolled way. Most commonly when the foot rolls onto the outside of the ankle, straining the outside ligaments of the ankle joint.

The symptoms of an ankle sprain are pain, tenderness and swelling, bruising, trouble moving the ankle, and sometimes an inability to put your full weight on it.

So what is the prognosis? Most people recover completely from mild sprains within two to six weeks. More severe sprains can take up to six months before you can return to full activity, or sport.

Once a significant sprain occurs, without good rehabilitation the joint may never be as strong as it was before the injury. It is not surprising therefore that many people have a history of repeated ankle sprains. With the correct rehabilitation however, you can help your ankle become even stronger than it was before the injury.

Tissue injury usually involves damage to small blood vessels that results in bleeding at the site of injury. This bleeding leads to inflammation which is part of the natural healing process. However, the body tends to overreact to sudden traumatic injury and as a result, excess inflammatory fluid accumulates which can result in ‘scar’ tissue production. Too much scar tissue may prevent normal function with reduced flexibility and increased risk of re-injury.

So what to do about it? Well, immediately after the injury you should follow the PRICE guidelines for at least 3 days before doing anything else and then after that your friendly local osteopath or other physical therapist can assist.

In case you’re not familiar with PRICE, this is an acronym.

P meaning Protect the ankle from any undue stress and avoid all movements in the same direction as the injury occurred.

R being Rest. Unload the joint (or take the weight off it) as much as you can in the first 72 hours after injury – try and avoid walking on the joint as much as possible.

I is for Ice. Ice is an amazing natural healer and a great short-term pain reducer. It also has a beneficial effect in reducing swelling and promoting healing. The optimal amount of time to apply ice is around 10 minutes in bony areas such as the ankle. Also, it can be applied as often as desired to achieve pain relief, ideally every 1-2 hours.

C is for Compression. This is advised for the first 72 hours, but only while your foot is not elevated. The compression can be firm as long as it doesn’t cause pins and needles or any loss of feeling around the joint.

And finally E is for Elevation of the leg on a sofa, footstall or bed for example. This reduces the flow of blood to the area which helps reduce swelling. This is highly recommended in the first 72 hours after an injury. However remove any compression while your foot is elevated unless you are wearing just a light compression bandage.

When following PRICE it is also important to avoid HARM, hence the saying: ‘Give PRICE and avoid HARM’. HARM is another acronym for Heat, Alcohol, Running, Massage.

Following this acute management phase, someone like myself can then start some ‘hands-on’ treatment to mobilise and strengthen the joint. THIS phase of treatment is crucial to ensure you return to full function and prevent future injury.

And finally, remember that adequate preparation for activity is key and weight-bearing should progress gently. Drastic changes in activity level and performing unpractised skills expose your ankle to re-injury. Another key to rehabilitation is to gradually build up your fitness level, that way your ankle, and the rest of your body, will thank you for it!

That’s all for today, see you next time for some more bitesize bits to help your health flourish. Bye bye for now.