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Why should you get physiotherapy for ankle sprains?

November 01 | 2021
Posted by Sharon Tierney

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Physiotherapy for ankle sprainsPhysiotherapy for ankle sprains is an important part of recovery.  There are many different types of ankle injuries.   Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries that lead people to seek out treatment at PhysioNow.  However, some people choose to let an ankle sprain recover on its own without the help of a Registered Physiotherapist.  Unfortunately, this can prevent full recovery of the injury and result in long term issues with the ankle.

What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain happens when there is injury to one of the ligaments of the ankle.  More specifically, a ligament is a soft tissue structures that connects a bones to bones.  Ligaments provide stability to the ankle joint.  This means that they keep the ankle secure and able to react to a variety of movements and forces.

There are 3 main sets of ligaments that help stabilize the ankle:

  1. Lateral ligaments – These three ligaments are found on the outside of the ankle.  Injury to these ligaments is called a lateral ankle sprain.  This is the most common type of ankle sprain.
  2.  Medial ligaments – These four ligaments are found on the inside portion of the ankle.  Injury to these structures is called a medial ankle sprain.
  3. Ankle Syndesmosis – These 3 ligaments on the top of the ankle, connecting the two bones of the shin.  Injury to these ligaments is referred to as a high ankle sprain.

An injury to any of these ligaments can result in an ankle sprain and result in pain and limited function.  There are different types of ankle sprains and they all have various degrees of severity.

What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?

The most common way that an ankle sprain happens is through a fall and twist of the ankle.  The exact symptoms of an ankle sprain will depend on the location of the ligaments injured and the severity of the injury.  However, the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain in the ankle
    • The exact location of the pain may vary depending on the ligaments affected.
    • However, pain can also be found all over the ankle regardless of the specific structures that are injured
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty moving the ankle through its usual range of motion
  • Inability to comfortably put your full weight through the ankle, like when  your standing or walking.
  • Loss ability to balance on uneven surfaces.
  • Inability to do higher impact activities such as jumping, hopping and running.

What should I do for my ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain can be very painful when it first happens.  Therefore, it is important to stop with whatever activity you are doing and give your ankle some rest.  If there is severe pain and you are unable to put any weight on it, it is a good idea to see a doctor to make sure that there is no ankle fracture.  Importantly, if you are able to walk on it, you can likely hold off on seeing a doctor and instead use the RICE principle.

  • R: Rest
  • I: Ice
  • C: Compression
  • E: Elevation

This should help reduce some of the initial inflammation in the ankle.  After trying this for 1-2 days, it is important to see a Registered Physiotherapist.  The physiotherapist will be able to assess the extent of your ankle sprain and start with the right treatment to help you recover in a timely manner.


What is the optimal physiotherapy treatment for ankle sprains?

Physiotherapy for ankle sprains usually includes several components that help to achieve a successful recovery.  At PhysioNow, all of our therapists have lots of experience at successfully treating ankle sprains.  The main focus of treatment will include:

  • Modalities to help reduce inflammation and promote healing
    • This could include ultrasound, laser and interferential therapy
  • Manual therapy for the ankle and surrounding tissues
    • Manual therapy helps to promote circulation and reduce tension through the affected tissues
    • Additionally, it can also help to promote flexibility of the ankle joint and help improve the range of motion
  • Exercises to help promote mobility and improve strength and balance
    • It is important to add exercises in a progressive manner so that they don’t overload the ankle and delay healing
  • Education is provided about home management principles and activity modification to assist with recovery of the ankle.
  • Bracing may be a recommendation depending on the severity of the injury
    • More specifically, for higher grade ankle sprains, wearing an ankle boot helps immobilize the ankle and prevent further injury to the sprained ligaments.
    • The physiotherapist will advise the patient on how long to wear the ankle boot.

Is it necessary to get physiotherapy for an ankle sprain?

Although some ankle sprains can seem like minor injuries that can heal on their own, this is not always the case.  More specifically, it is important to know that the body always makes compensations for injuries.  Therefore, when you don’t get treatment for your injuries, these compensations will continue to build up and produce long term effects.  For example, if there is chronic weakness in the ankle after an ankle sprain, then there is a higher chance of getting future ankle sprains.  Additionally, this leads to more problems as each successive sprain adds more weakness to the ankle and takes longer and longer to recover.

Getting physiotherapy treatment early in the injury phase will lead to a faster recovery and prevents future sprains from disrupting your life.  Call PhysioNow today to book your assessment!


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