Ankle Sprain Treatment Options
Ankle sprains are a very common injury for athletes and non-athletes. An ankle sprain most commonly occurs when the foot rolls inward and stretches the ligaments on the lateral (outside) aspect of the ankle. The severity of the injury depends on the amount of force put on the ankle ligaments during the injury.
After an ankle sprain, the ankle swells and may bruise depending on the severity of the sprain, ROM and strength are lost and balance is disturbed.
Initially the RICE principles for swelling control are appropriate:
R – Rest: Get off your feet so you don’t cause more pain and swelling
I – Ice: 10-15 min several times per day
C – Compression: use a compressive sleeve or wrap to control swelling
E – Elevation: Elevate your ankle above your heart to control swelling
Motion should be restored as tolerated. Begin working on ankle pumps (moving ankle up and down) and ankle alphabets (drawing the letters of the alphabet with your foot). Progress to full weight bearing as tolerated if unable to put full weight on your leg initially.
When able to begin strengthening, isometric exercises progressing to exercises with tubing can be used to strengthen the ankle muscles. Your physical therapist can show you the proper way to do these exercises and then progress you to more challenging and functional exercises as you progress.
Balance (or proprioception) is impacted by an ankle sprain and must be restored in order to prevent recurrence of ankle sprains. Start by standing on your involved leg to balance with your eyes open and then progress to having your eyes closed.
It is important to eliminate swelling and restore motion, strength and balance to prevent ankle sprains from becoming recurrent and chronic. Your physical therapist can make sure that you are doing the right exercises to reach your goals and prevent further sprains.