An ankle sprain refers to damage that commonly occurs to the lateral (outside) ligaments of the ankle. Ankle sprains are classed according to the degree of severity.
Many of these sprains will gradually settle with time providing there is the right amount of rest and some cryotherapy (ice treatment): a physio can advise you here.
If you suffer a more severe ankle sprain the swelling can persist and cause enough pain to make it difficult for you to place weight on your injured ankle. At this stage, it is particularly important that you see a physiotherapist who can assess the degree of damage and prescribe the appropriate treatment, and if necessary, refer you to a specialist for scans and further intervention.
Ankle Sprain – will it just heal itself?
The problem with ankle sprains is that we think they will just fix themselves. This is not the case. A lack of proper rehabilitation and treatment can put the ankle at greater risk of repeat injuries. If ignored, acute or chronic Ankle Sprains can lead to long term ankle pain, wear and tear of the joint and chronic instability. In serious cases, this requires an arthroscopic wash-out or even an ankle replacement. The message is: take action early to avoid problems later!
Ankle Sprain – what is going on?
The ligaments of the ankle are thick, fibrous bands of tissue that help to attach one bone to another. They assist the joint by providing joint position sense and stability. The majority of ankle sprains occur within the lateral ligaments (ligaments on the outside of the ankle) namely, the anterior talo fibular ligament (ATFL). This is due to the tendency sometimes to roll on our foot which places stress on this ligament.
Ankle Sprain physiotherapy
A good physiotherapist will provide you with the advice and guidance to assist you through your recovery. Firstly, you will need to rest the injured ankle and do everything possible to reduce swelling e.g. icing, elevation and appropriate medications prescribed by your doctor. It is important to take ownership of your recovery at this early stage.
This isn’t an injury that you can simply ‘shake off’. For instance, continuing to play football on an injured ankle is not going to help: you can’t ‘run off’ this injury.
Once the swelling has settled it is important to keep the joint moving and maintain your range of motion.
After the early stages of recovery, you will be able to commence some strengthening and maintenance exercises, for instance resistance band strengthening, proprioception (also known as single leg balance) exercises. The important thing is to avoid over-stressing the ankle or engaging in exercises that could potentially roll it.
If you choose Full Motion Physio
My approach is described in the Full Motion Method page. Extensive research has identified four essential elements for the best physiotherapy. The Full Motion Method covers each of these elements.
I will tailor your treatment specifically to your body and your condition. We will review and refine the treatment throughout your recovery. Your input at each stage is an essential part of the process. My aim is to be a partner in your recovery.
The end result is more than simply fixing your current symptoms. I will help you understand your condition and how specific exercises aid recovery. And I will guide you on injury prevention.
One last point: Early diagnosis and intervention minimises the risk of the injury getting worse.
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