Spraining the outside of your ankle is one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in everyday and sports-related activities. Up to 70% of the general population have sprained their ankle at some point in their lifetime. If you have sprained your ankle previously, then you are twice as likely to sprain it again in the year following injury.
Around 20-40% of those that sprain their ankle go on to develop chronic ankle instability, which is defined as a functional and/or mechanical instability resulting in recurrent sprains and persistent pain lasting over one year after injury.
A study conducted by Raeder, C. et al. (2021) in the BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation Journal researched the factors which influenced chronic ankle instability. It was revealed that females and older age groups (41-55 years) have a higher risk for developing chronic ankle instability. Those that started therapy more than 4 weeks after injury have a worsened functional outcome, and individuals who had a high rate of lateral ankle sprains, also had a poorer outcome.
The recommendation would be to start rehabilitative therapy in the early stages of injury, to avoid developing chronic ankle instability. During rehabilitation, the following factors should assessed and facilitated if there is impairment:-
# range of motion
# postural control
# functional tasks
Above all, the longer you leave an acute ankle sprain, the more likely you are to have long-term instability and pain.