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Lateral Ankle Sprains


Lateral ankle sprains are the most common type of sprain. They account for nearly 80% of all ankle injuries, and they're caused by a sideways twist or roll of the foot. Lateral ankle sprains are identified as Grade 1, 2, or 3 based on how much damage there is to the ligaments in your ankle. They can be very painful, particularly during initial diagnosis and treatment—but with time and physical therapy, you can get back to your regular activities and enjoy pain-free ankles again!

What is a lateral ankle sprain?

In this injury, one or more ligaments on the outside of your foot are stretched or torn.

Lateral ankle sprains are usually caused by a twisting injury (such as stepping on a rock while hiking) that puts sudden stress on your foot and ankle joints. The most common types of lateral ankle sprains include:

  • Anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) sprain

  • Calcaneal fibular ligament (CFL) sprain

What are the symptoms of a lateral ankle sprain?

The symptoms of a lateral ankle sprain can include:

  • Pain and swelling in the affected area.

  • Bruising, which may be visible on the skin or under your sock or shoe.

  • Weakness in your foot and ankle, making it difficult to walk without pain or instability. You may also notice that when you try to stand on your toes (called "toe walking"), it's more difficult than usual because of this weakness in the muscles supporting your ankle joint.

Can I prevent a lateral ankle sprain?

  • Wear appropriate footwear.

  • Warm up before exercise.

  • Use proper technique when playing sports or performing physical activities, especially those that put you at risk for injury.

  • Avoid high-risk activities if you have a history of ankle sprains, or if you are not sure how to perform them correctly and safely.

  • Maintain good balance and proprioception (awareness) in your ankles so that they can better absorb shock during sudden changes in direction or terrain, which may cause a lateral ankle sprain if done incorrectly or on an unstable surface such as sand or grass; this will also help prevent falls from occurring at all!

  • Maintain good strength and flexibility in the ankle joint by doing exercises like heel drops with resistance bands several times per week

How is a lateral ankle sprain diagnosed and treated?

The most common treatment is physical therapy, which can help you recover from a lateral ankle sprain and prevent future injuries.

Physical therapists will assess your symptoms and determine whether they are caused by your muscles or ligaments. They'll also look at how well you can move around without pain, then create a treatment plan based on these findings.

During physical therapy sessions, the PT will likely ask you to stretch and strengthen certain muscles in order to improve their flexibility or stability around the joint. They may also have you perform exercises that help improve balance to make sure that you get back as much control and stability in the ankle as possible.

How can physical therapy help me heal from a lateral ankle sprain?

Physical therapy will help you regain range of motion, strength and balance. You'll also learn how to prevent future ankle sprains.

Lateral ankle sprains are common, but they can often be managed with physical therapy.

Lateral ankle sprains are common, but they can often be managed with physical therapy. If you have recently injured your ankle, physical therapy can help you recover from the injury. Physical therapists will work with you to increase mobility in your ankle, improve balance and prevent future injuries.


Lateral ankle sprains are common, but they can often be managed with physical therapy.

The key to healing from a lateral ankle sprain is to get help as soon as possible. If you have any questions about your injury or treatment options, please contact us today!


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