Don’t Trust Mother Nature to Heal Your Ankle Sprain!

Don’t try and let Mother Nature heal your ankle sprain!

...She lacks the tools needed to ensure a complete and reinjury-free healing process. If you are suffering from either an acute ankle sprain or dealing with chronic ankle instability resulting from multiple ankle injuries, let's delve into the intricacies of ankle sprains from the anatomy, the variety of ankle sprains, the mechanism of how it’s injured, and prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common lower leg injuries, especially in sports activities such as football, volleyball, and soccer. This injury is known to keep an athlete on the sideline for up to 6 weeks of recovery. Once an athlete deals with an ankle sprain, especially the moderate to severe variety, they are more prone to chronic ankle instability and possible reoccurrence in the future. This potential chronic ankle instability is the main reason why it’s imperative to address an acute ankle sprain appropriately to decrease the chances of this injury plaguing a young athlete for years to come…and that is why you shouldn’t trust Mother Nature to effectively heal your injured ankle!

Anatomy of the Ankle

The ankle joint is considered a hinged synovial joint. Although inherently weaker on its own, the ligamentous structure around the joint is critical in providing the stability for the joint along with the joint capsule. This joint is critical in the gait cycle due to its high level of functionality and its proximity to the ground surface. A properly stable ankle joint is less prone to an acute ankle sprain in the first place.


The joint is made up of three bones – talus, tibia, and fibula 

 Ankle Capsule

The ankle capsule is a fibrous structure enveloping the ankle joint. Comprising ligaments and connective tissue, the capsule provides crucial support and stability during all the movements of the ankle. Key ligaments play a pivotal role in preventing excessive motion and maintaining joint integrity. Ankle sprains can occur when these ligaments are stretched or torn, often due to twisting or rolling of the ankle.


For this article, we will break up the ankle into three compartments – lateral, medial, and anterior-superior ankle. These regions of the ankle are where a large percentage of ankle sprains occur.

Lateral Ankle

Anterior Talofibular Ligament

Posterior Talofibular Ligament

Calcaneofibular Ligament

These ligaments work together to support the outer surface of the ankle joint. Working together they are a critical unit to limit inversion and internal rotation stress to the ankle joint – which is by far the largest injury category for ankle sprains

Medial Ankle

The inner ankle is supported by a group of ligaments paired together making up the Deltoid ligament. This is a triangle-shaped ligament that provides support and integrity to the medial ankle. This group of ligaments is also responsible for limiting the ankle from rolling into eversion (inwards).

Anterior-Superior Ankle

The anterior-superior ankle joint is made up of the ligaments and tissue that provide stability just superior, or above, the ankle joint. This region of the ankle is where we see syndesmotic ankle sprains (high ankle sprains) occur. The ligaments and interosseous membrane play crucial roles in stabilizing the tibia and fibula, maintaining the integrity of the ankle joint, and allowing for proper movement. The 3 components of this region of the ankle are:

Anterior Inferior Tibiofibular Ligament (AITFL)

Posterior Inferior Tibiofibular Ligament (PITFL)

Interosseous Membrane

3 Types of Ankle Sprains

Inversion Anke Sprain

The inversion, or lateral, ankle sprain makes up the majority of ankle sprains. This is when the foot is rolled inwards, and the ligaments and tissue are suddenly stressed on the outer ankle. There are possibly three ligaments involved with this injury:

Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL)

Posterior Talofibular Ligament (PTFL)

Calcaneofibular Ligament


Eversion Ankle Sprains

The eversion ankle sprain occurs when the foot is rolled outwards. This places a sudden stress into the medial ankle compartment, stressing the Deltoid Ligament. Eversion ankle sprains are much rarer due to the nature of the injury, and the foot mechanics of this injury, but they do occur.

High Ankle Sprains (Syndesmotic Sprains)

This is the most severe of the 3 types of ankle injuries. This injury usually takes the longest to recover from – typically anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. This injury involves the tissues into the anterior-superior region:

Anterior Inferior Tibiofibular Ligament (AITFL)

Posterior Inferior Tibiofibular Ligament (PITFL)

Interosseous Membrane

The Syndesmosis is a fibrous joint between the tibia and fibula, the two main lower leg bones. This injury occurs when forces cause separation between the tibia and fibula causing stress to the interosseous membrane between the bones along with the ligaments that maintain the integrity of that joint.

Traditional Medical Management of Ankle Sprains

It's crucial not to rely solely on Mother Nature for the effective healing of an ankle sprain. The high reoccurrence rate of untreated ankle injuries significantly increases the risk of developing instability, leading to further issues in the short and long term, including the potential for reinjury.

The traditional approach of Rest/Ice/Compression/Elevation (RICE) has been discredited as an effective method for managing these injuries. On the contrary, administering early therapeutic interventions to most ankle injuries yields significantly better outcomes in both the short and long term.

Given the severity of some of these injuries, early use of a walking boot may be warranted to alleviate stress during walking. This is particularly true for high ankle sprains, where instability is a prominent concern.

Break Through Pain's Approach to Managing Ankle Sprains

At Break Through Pain, Dr. Mike Turjanica has over a decade of experience treating and producing excellent outcomes for any type of ankle sprain. As mentioned earlier, the earlier therapeutic interventions are sought out for most ankle sprains, the likelihood of a quicker and more appropriate outcome is much higher.

Dr. Mike specializes in soft tissue therapy along with therapeutic and functional exercises to promote proper healing. This approach helps relieve pain and discomfort early on with care. As the treatment progresses, the focus shifts towards enhancing the functional stability of the ankle, ultimately restoring proper strength to the foot and getting you back into competition or life again with no pain.

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