Ligaments connect bone to bone. Ligaments have great mechanical tensile strength that provide joints with support and stability. They can commonly occur during sport but can also occur during every day life activities. A ligament will sprains when a joint is pushed past it’s available range of movement. Ligament sprains of the ankle are the most common ligament sprains that occur in the body. There are different grades to ligament sprains. Grade 1: A few of the ligament collagen fibres are damaged. Some swelling and local tenderness is felt over the ligaments. Grade 2: More collagen fibres are damaged, more swelling is seen and the pain is more intense. Grade 3: A complete rupture of the ligament is seen along with intense pain, swelling and bruising. Surgery may be needed.
In relation to ankle sprains rest, ice, compression and elevation, known as RICE is the first step to the treatment, This will help reduce the swelling and prevent loss of movement. Physiotherapy will involve working on regaining full range of movement, strength, stability and proprioception of the joint. Proprioception relates to the ligaments ability to be able to tell the brain quickly where the foot/ joint is placed at any given time. For instance, if you stand on a pebble or stone good proprioception of your ligaments will be able to make you correct you foot positioning quickly so that you don’t go over on your ankle again! Research has shown that once you sprain your ankle you have an increased chance of spraining it again. If you sprain your ankle more than three times you may need to brace or strap the ankle during sport to help prevent a recurrent ankle sprain.