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A man of many talents, Lee was unsure which career to pursue when leaving school, but experience of physiotherapy after Athletics and Rugby injuries set him on a path from which he would never look back...

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Alderbank Physiotherapy
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Home > Conditions Treated > Ankle & knee injuries

 Ankle & Knee Sprains

The information contained on this site is intended as general guidance and information only, and should not be relied upon as a basis for planning individual medical care or as a substitute for specialist medical advice in each case. To the extent permissible by law, the authors and clinic accept no liability for any loss, injury or damage however incurred (including negligence) as a consequence, whether directly or indirectly, of the author of the contents of this web page/site.

 Ligament injuries occur in most ball and jumping sports.  The lateral ligament complex is composed of three ligaments, the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcano fibular ligament (CFL), and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).  The soft tissue structure of the ankle is maintained by the 3 groups of ligaments, the lateral ligaments, the deltoid ligament and the syndesmosis complex.

 Mechanism of Injury

 The most common mechanism of injury at the ankle is an inward turning of the sole of the foot (supination/inversion).  Depending on the force and degree of movement different injuries can occur, such as:


  • Damage and tearing of the ligament between the talus and fibular bones (the anterior talofibular ligament)
  • Avulsion fracture (pulling away a small piece of bone) of the fibular
  • Fracture of the fibular at the joint line level
  • More serious ankle fractures.

 Ligament injury is usually (⅔ of cases) isolated to the ATFL.  A combination of ATFL and CFL ruptures occur in 20-25%.  The PTFL is rarely injured.

 The deltoid (medial) ligament and syndesmosis are usually only ruptured in severe trauma and in combination with fractures.


 Grade I

Ligament stretch without tearing, minimal swelling or tenderness, minimal functional loss, no mechanical joint instability

 Grade II

Partial microscopic ligament tear with moderate pain, swelling and tenderness over the involved structures.  Some loss of joint motion and mild to moderate joint instability.

 Grade III

 Complete ligament rupture with marked swelling, haemorrhage and tenderness.  Loss of function and severe instability.  Difficult fully weight bearing.

 Management and Treatment

 First 48 hours


  • P.R.I.C.E principles are applied
  • Gentle active range of motion exercises
  • Avoid painful activities
  • Weight bearing with a brace or other stabilizing support
  • X-rays are rarely done unless bony injury is suspected

 After 48 hours

  •  Continue with range of motion exercises and weight bearing as pain allows.
  •  Assessment by a qualified therapist  to assess the degree of damage is recommended.
  •  Proprioceptive exercises and strengthening exercises as instructed by your therapist.


 A general rule of thumb will be –

 Grade I injury;           1 – 2 weeks

Grade II injury;          2 – 4 weeks

Grade III injury;          4 – 8 weeks

 However problems may remain for 6-9 months.  Return to maybe anything from 4 – 12 weeks dependent on the sport and extent of the injury.  (Be guided by your therapist)