Ankle sprains are very common across all age groups. The most typical ankle sprain is known as a “lateral” ankle sprain, where the ankle twists inwards.
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, redness, bruising, swelling, and restricted motion. Some of the symptoms can either mask or mimic the signs of other diagnoses, such as a fracture. Treatment for each of these diagnoses would be very different and thus knowing the diagnosis is vital to your treatment. Therefore, it is important to get the ankle checked as soon as possible.
An ankle sprain is classified as a strong stretch or tear of the ligaments in the ankle. Ligaments are fibrous tissue that attach to/from bones that help to stabilize joints. The most common type of sprain occurs throughout the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, referred to as a lateral ankle sprain. A lateral ankle sprain can occur after pressure is applied to the foot once it has turned in, such as during a sport or a fall. The ligaments that are most involved in an ankle sprain are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL). Despite the extent to which the ligaments are stretched, they will not return to their normal length. Therefore, it is important to begin a strengthening exercise with a physical therapist, once appropriate, to support the ankle joint.
Physical therapists at Specialized Physical Therapy will first conduct a thorough evaluation to assess your how you injured yourself, your symptoms, and mobility. Your therapist will determine whether you did sprain your ankle or if you need to see your MD for further follow up.
Treatment and Exercises
After a complete physical therapy evaluation, your physical therapist will develop a comprehensive and individualized treatment program to get you back to doing what you enjoy. Physical therapy can help to speed up the healing process in terms of managing the swelling and restoring mobility through manual techniques. Mobility, strengthening, and balance exercises will also be added to your physical therapy program to make sure the joint is stable so you can safely return to all functional and recreational activities.
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