The ankle is relatively stable given the degree of demand placed on it. Most people have experienced a sprained ankle and these can vary in intensity. People often describe a rolling action where the foot gives way. The ankle usually becomes inflamed and is painful with movements
Inversion Sprain (rolling over on the ankle)
Eversion Sprain (rolling inward on the ankle)
Poor foot posture
Sudden pain is often felt with a sprain and a snapping or popping sensation may be experienced. If you find you are unable to walk on the ankle after the injury then it is best to get an x-ray, it may be broken/fractured. The ligaments can sometimes rupture and this will be characterized by a feeling of instability.
Pain can develop in the joint over a period of time i.e. when running or walking and will often be evident when you have been exercising for a period of time several minutes to a few hours.
Recurrent sprains will occur where there is laxity on the joint or muscle weakness persists
The rule of thumb tends to be that if in doubt take a trip to A & E, generally if you are unable to weight bear, an X-ray is the best way to be sure. Strapping is very important early on in order to immobilise the joint and prevent further injury. Ice is often advocated to stem blood flow. The ankle being at the bottom of the body will not have the benefit of gravity to draw fluid away from the region and therefore we often tell people to elevate the foot when at rest. Mobilisation is important to reduce scarring, and ultrasound helps to establish a good scar formation. Exercise is essential in restoring normal muscle function and stability. Balance exercises and activities which retrain the ability to deal with sudden changes in direction are essential for normal function and sport. If the muscles are weak then there is greater risk of the ankle re-spraining.