What is an Ankle Sprain?
Ankle sprains occur when the foot twists, rolls or turns beyond its normal range of motion. An ankle sprain can happen if the foot is planted unevenly on a surface. This places the ankle in an abnormal position causing the ligaments to stretch beyond normal range. Most ankle sprains occur when a weight-bearing foot makes a quick shifting movement, such as when you are playing sports or land incorrectly on an uneven surface.
Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain
Most of the time pain, swelling and bruising occurs immediately at the site of the sprain. The ankle area will also be tender to the touch and will hurt when moved. In more severe sprains, a popping or snapping noise may be heard. Initially, the pain will be more extreme and will result in the inability to put weight/pressure on the affected joint.
Treatment of an Ankle Sprain
Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) is the most effective way to treat initial symptoms of an ankle sprain. RICE is recommended 24-48 hours after a sprain. A physician or physical therapist can decide if crutches are also needed to protect the ankle while it is healing.
The goal of a physical therapist is to get patients back to daily activities. Without proper rehabilitation, continued problems such as loss of function, decreased movement, chronic pain, swelling and joint instability could arise.
Your physical therapist will select from the following treatments:
- Range-of-motion and/or muscle strengthening exercises
- Body awareness and balance training: specialized training exercises to help muscles learn to respond to the changes in the environment, such as uneven or unstable surfaces
- Functional training: progression in treatment to include daily living activities that were being performed prior to the injury
- Activity-specific training: specific training tailored to occupation and/or daily activities (i.e. sports)
- Modalities to treat the pain and swelling
- Manual therapy to regain normal joint mobility