Ankle Injuries – What is the difference and how do you treat them?

“I heard a ‘pop’ as my ankle contorted and stretched to keep me standing up”

Written by Keturah Hughes – Osteopath

One crisp, clear, winters morning few years ago, I was out running in the rolling hills of the British countryside, enjoying the clean air and the serenity when I landed badly on a frosty stone and heard a ‘pop‘ as my ankle contorted and stretched to keep me standing up!

The noise was disconcerting but there was no pain and no immediate swelling, so I carried on! By the time I arrived home 30mins later, my ankle  has swollen up like a balloon and the pain had started to set in.

I am sure many people have a similar story, as a sprained ankle is a very common injury.

In this blog I will briefly talk about the difference between a sprained, strained and twisted ankle and how to treat it.

Sprained, strained and twisted ankle?

Ankle Injury Sprained Twisted Ankle

The terms twisted ankle, rolled ankle, and sprained ankle are all different terms to describe an ankle injury.

An ankle injury is defined by the kind of tissue that is damaged; this could be your bone, ligament or tendon.

A sprained ankle, is damaged ligament due to being stretched beyond the ligaments normal capacity.

A strain refers to damage to muscles and tendons from being overstretched.

A fracture describes a break in one or more on the bones.

Common causes of ankle injury

Uneven surfaces like a sidewalk, rocky terraine, stairway

Playing sports, badminton, tennis, football etc…

Pre-existing injury and previous ankle injury

Wearing high heeled shoes

Poor physical strength in the ankle

Symptoms of Ankle Injury

Popping sensation at the time of injury

Tenderness when touching the ankle

Instability in the ankle

Swelling and/or bruising

Restricted range of motion

Pain when weight bearing

How Bad Is My Ankle Sprain?

Just like an injury, the severity of a sprained ankle can differ. There is a scale to determine how badly you sprained your ankle – there are three different grades on injury.

Grade 1 – Only a small number of ligament fibres are torn.

Grade 2 – A significant number of ligament fibres are torn.

Grade 3 – All lateral ligament fibres are fully ruptured.

Ankle Injury Sprain Rehabilitation and Management
Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation and Management

Rehabilitation & Management

Immediately after injury the best thing to do it RICE

Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation

We would highly recommend that you see a specialist to diagnose and advise you 

with regards to your rehabilitation program.

After the initial few days once you can start to put weight onto the joint again you can begin to do some exercises.

Start with Proprioception – Improve your balance and awareness of where your joint is in space. As your balance improves and your rehabilitation will become easier.

Mobility – keep the joint moving, it will seize up with the inflammation, but gentle, pain free articulation of the joint with help lymphatic drainage and reduce scar tissue formation.

Stretching – isometric exercises to start with and then work into more dynamic exercises as you are progressing through your rehabilitation process.

How Can Physical Therapy Helps?

Ankle Injury Physical Therapy Helps

A professional can:-

  • Assess and diagnose the degree of damage
  • Soft tissue massage to relieve muscle tension, pain and reduce local inflammation
  • Joint mobilisation to improve range of movement
  • Dry needling to reduce muscular tension and pain
  • Sports taping to provide support and aid function
  • Advise and educate on the appropriate footwear and exercise programmes aimed at strength, mobility and balance.

Round Up!

Ankle strains are very common, they can affect the ligament, muscle and bone have different level of severity.

It is best to seek our professional treatment as early as possible to try to reduce the scar tissue, reduce inflammation, know what exercises are good for your injury and to prevent reoccurrence.

At City Osteopathy & Physiotherapy we have over highly qualified 30 practitioners in 3 different locations around Singapore as well as offering online consultations.

If you would like to book in a consultation, please do contact us on