Physical Therapy Guide to Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are common injuries that occur when the foot twists or bends outside its normal range of motion, causing overstretching or tearing of the ankle ligaments. 23,000 Americans are expected to suffer ankle sprains daily. Of all sports injuries in the United States, 45 percent are ankle sprains; the athletes most commonly affected are basketball players.
Younger athletes, members of the military, and someone who regularly runs, leaps, and changes direction rapidly when performing an athletic activity (‘cutting motion’) are people who have an elevated risk of spraining an ankle. Physical therapists help individuals with ankle sprains minimize their pain; recover their strength, movement, and balance; return to normal levels of activity, and prevent reinjury.
What Is Ankle Sprain?
Sprains are ligament injuries that are (the bands of tissue that hold joints together). When the foot twists or turns outside its usual range of movement, ankle sprains occur, causing the ligaments binding the knee, ankle, and foot bones to overstretch or tear.
The ligaments on the ankle’s outer (lateral) side are the most frequently damaged ones. It is also possible to sprain ligaments on the inner (medial) side of the ankle, or above the ankle joint, although they are less commonly injured.
It normally takes between 2 weeks and 2 months for an ankle sprain to heal. After a couple of weeks, the ankle will feel stronger and be completely strengthened in a few months. However, a badly sprained ligament will take 9 months to 1 year to cure.
Recurrent sprains of the ankle are common; it is sometimes reinjured after an ankle ligament is sprained. In fact, 73 percent of individuals who have once sprained an ankle are likely to do so again. Reinjury is highly possible if preinjury levels are not completely restored to, or enhanced beyond, muscle strength and balance.
How Does It Feel?
Right after an ankle sprain, you may experience:
- Inability to stand or walk on the affected foot
- A feeling of instability in the ankle joint
You experience discomfort immediately at the site of the stretch or tear of the ligament after most sprains. Sometimes, the ankle instantly begins to swell and can become swollen. Typically, the ankle region is soft to the touch, and it hurts when you turn the ankle. You can hear or feel a tear in more serious sprains, along with a “pop” or “snap.”
How Is It Diagnosed?
If you see your physical therapist first, the physical therapist will examine your ankle, take your health history, and ask questions such as:
- How did you get injured?
- Did you feel a pop, snap, or tear?
- What activities are you having trouble doing?
- What activities do you want to get back to doing?
In order to see whether it is uncomfortable to touch, the physical therapist may gently push around your ankle and will use additional measures to assess if other areas of your foot are hurt. Your physical trainer can assess your strength and endurance, see how you can lift your feet and legs, and watch how you walk.
Depending on how badly a ligament is affected or how many ligaments are injured, it is possible to classify your ankle sprain as:
- Grade 1 (mild). The ligament is overstretched.
- Grade 2 (moderate). The ligament is overstretched or partially torn.
- Grade 3 (severe). The ligament is completely torn.
Your physical therapist will also test and search for other, more severe conditions that can cause discomfort and swelling. Your physical therapist may consult with an orthopedic doctor or other health care provider to provide a definitive diagnosis, who may order more testing, such as an x-ray, to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out other damage to the ankle, including fracture.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Physical trainers support individuals with ankle sprains to heal quicker than they would without care. The time it takes to treat an ankle sprain varies, but it is always possible to produce results in 2 to 8 weeks. In order to create a personalized therapy package that fits your needs and goals, your physical therapist will consult with you.
During the first 24 to 48 hours following your diagnosis, your physical therapist may advise you to:
- Rest the area by avoiding any activity that causes pain.
- Apply ice packs to the area for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 hours.
- Consult with a physician for further services, such as medication or diagnostic tests.
- Walk as easily and as much as you can on the affected foot, without making the pain or swelling worse.
- Use crutches to help relieve pain and maintain balance, or other walking aids.
- For the protection and to reduce swelling, wrap the ankle or use an ankle brace.
These self-treatments will make it easier for you to be as involved with the least amount of discomfort as possible, which will help speed recovery.
Are You in Need of Manual Therapy for Your Pain?
Manual therapies from Schemata Bodywork helps people who are active or desire to be active. Who can benefit from a sports massage from Schemata Bodywork? Individuals who have careers that are restricted to working at a desk, all athletes that are looking to improve their performance or physical gains, people who have community service jobs such as firefighters, law enforcement, or military personnel. If you are suffering from injuries with acute or chronic pain, or someone who wants relief from mental or physical stress, we can help change your life. Contact us now for your appointment.