Thousands upon thousands of people twist their ankles every hour. Sprained ankles are so abundantly common, some refer to them as the “common cold of musculoskeletal injuries.” Although comparing an injury to the common cold may make it sound like it’s non-life-threatening and relatively simple to treat, ankle sprains should be taken seriously. Some individuals with repeated and/or severe sprains develop long-term joint pain or weakness, or permanent disability and dysfunction from ankle instability.
What Causes Ankle Sprains?
These injuries hurt because the ankle is twisted in an awkward way that forces the ankle joint out of its normal position. When the ankle twists or rolls, it stretches the tough bands of tissue connecting the bones of the leg to the foot (these are called ligaments). Athletes or people with very physically demanding jobs are more likely to suffer from ankle sprains, but anyone can inadvertently contort their ankle and overextend or tear the ankle’s ligaments with one wrong step. Soon after the accident, you’ll notice pain, tenderness, and swelling, and it might be difficult to walk because your ankle can’t hold your weight.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Your Ankle Sprain
Before physical therapy can commence, the first few days after your injury should be spent resting so you can heal without further aggravating the ankle. This is when it’s important to practice “RICE” – rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injured ankle. You can apply an ice pack for up to 15 minutes at a time every few hours to reduce swelling and pain. You should see a doctor, who can recommend whether you need a boot or crutches to keep weight off the affected ankle.
Physical therapy is one way to help promote sprained ankle healing, so your foot can gradually start to bear more weight after a period of using crutches or a boot. Unlike what some may tell you, an ankle sprain isn’t something you should try to walk off. In fact, before you are diagnosed, you won’t know if the ankle is sprained or fractured, and it is dangerous to walk on a fractured ankle.
When you come to your first session, your physical therapist will gain detailed information about how the sprain occurred to better understand how the ankle is impacted. The focus of physical therapy is to retrain the joint to move the way in which it was designed, and to relieve pain and ensure proper injury healing.
Have a sprained ankle? Contact ProFysio at (732) 812-5200 or book your appointment online!