Ankle Sprains

"Ankle sprains are common injuries that occur when the foot twists or turns beyond its normal range of movement, causing the ligaments of the ankle to overstretch or tear. It is estimated that 23,000 Americans experience ankle sprains daily. Of all sports injuries in the United States, 45% are ankle sprains; basketball players are the athletes most often affected. People who have an increased risk of spraining an ankle include younger athletes, members of the military, and anyone who frequently runs, jumps, and changes direction quickly, while performing an athletic activity (“cutting motion”). Physical therapists help people who have experienced ankle sprains reduce their pain; regain their strength, motion, and balance; return to normal activity levels; and avoid reinjury.” (www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditions)

What is an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains are when a bands of tissues called ligaments in the ankle are stretched beyond their limits. It usually causes immediate swelling which is used to protect the joint from further injury. Ankle sprains are graded by their severity. Grade I is a mild strain of the ligaments usually accompanied with swelling. Grade II is more severe with moderate stretching of the ligaments and can be torn. It usually has more swelling with bruising. Grade III is the most severe with complete ligament tearing and usually results in significant pain, instability, and decreased ability to bear weight and walk.

How long does it take to get better?

Usually ankle sprains can heal within a few weeks, but the most severe can take several months to heal. A Physical Therapist can aid in a quicker recovery and prevent future injury. Typical physical therapy treatment will initially be rest, ice, compress and elevate (RICE) with some controlled motion activities. Often we will apply taping techniques (KT tape) that help to reduce swelling and provide support. Treatment progresses to strengthening the tendons around the ankle to compensate for stretched ligaments. More dynamic strengthening and balance activities are added as recovery progresses. It is important to continue strengthening after therapy because after an initial sprain the chance for reinjury is higher.

What to do if you sprain your ankle?

Begin with RICE then call your Physical Therapist at Rocky Mountain Therapy Services. We will be able to consult with you and assess if an x-ray is appropriate. We look forward to helping you recover from your injury and return to your favorite activities as soon as possible.