PT eDigest

SprainAnkle sprains

Ankle sprain, one of the most common injuries, affects about 25,000 people every day. An ankle sprain is an injury to one of the ligaments in your ankle. A sudden twisting motion can cause these tough bands of tissue to stretch too far or snap entirely. Wearing high heels, playing sports that require swift changes in direction or even just walking on an uneven surface are all risk factors for sprained ankles.

 Symptoms include difficulty moving the ankle, instability of the joint, pain (which can be mild to severe), swelling and bruising. You may hear a popping sound while the injury occurs. While ankle sprains sometimes heal on their own, most experts suggest treatment to avoid a recurrence. Through a physical examination, a clinician can usually diagnose the extent of the injury.

 Mild sprains may heal on their own with some rest and self-care. Other things you can do to speed up healing include the following:

  • Avoid putting weight on the ankle whenever possible.
  • Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Elevate the ankle on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
  • Use an ankle brace for added support.
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers (if your physician approves) to ease discomfort and swelling.

Treatment for a more serious sprain usually consists of the same self-care routine, along with a prescription for physical therapy. Exercise helps healing and can control the formation of scar tissue, the body’s natural reaction to injury. Scar tissue protects the injured area, but it can also decrease strength and flexibility in the joint if the ankle is simply left to heal on its own. A rehabilitation plan featuring exercises that we design specifically for you can increase strength and flexibility in the ankle and prevent reinjury.

In cases of severe sprain, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged ligament. After surgery, you may need to wear a cast for a few weeks. After that, a rehabilitation program of physical therapy designed with your physician’s input will get you back on your feet again, with an ankle that is strong, flexible and free from pain.

Download the PTedigest for June 2014