Sprains of the lateral ligaments of the ankle are the most common. The mechanism of injury in these cases is trauma in plantar flexion and inversion of the ankle (when the foot is pointed inward). Three grades of ankle sprains exist:
Grade 1: ligament stretch, with light swelling
Grade 2: partial tear, with swelling and bruising within the first 24 hours
Grade 3: complete tear, with significant swelling and bruising
Healing time varies according to the gravity of the ligament sprain. However, one should notice a progressive improvement with time. Consultation with a physiotherapist is important to regain maximal physical condition, and to avoid relapses. Regardless of the grade of the ankle sprain, the RICE principle must be followed within the first 24 to 72 hours:
1- Rest (walking with crutches and reduce weight bearing).
2- Ice application.
3- Compression with an elastic bandage.
4- Elevation of the ankle above the heart (achieved by lying on one’s back with the foot propped on a pillow)
If signs and symptoms persist passed six to eight weeks after the injury, you must consult a physiotherapist. Following an ankle sprain, the joints at the ankle and foot may become fixated. A fixation alters joint biomechanics, which can cause persistent symptoms even once the ligament has fully healed. Following a full assessment, the fixated joint is found, and a manipulation technique is used to re-instate proper ankle mechanics. This should reduce any remaining signs and symptoms significantly. Home exercises are then prescribed to normalize ankle mobility, strength, and stability to achieve full recovery.
Reference : Bergeron, Yves; Fortin, Luc; Leclaire, Richard (2008). Pathologie médicale de l’appareil locomoteur. Montréal : Edisem, P.946-954