How To Strengthen Your Ankle After A Sprain
To recover from an ankle sprain fully, you’ll need to restore the normal range of motion to your ankle joint and strengthen its ligaments and supporting muscles. Studies have shown that people return to their normal activities sooner when their treatment emphasizes restoring ankle function often with the aid of splints, braces, taping, or elastic bandages rather than immobilization . Called functional treatment, this strategy usually involves three phases: the RICE regimen in the first 24 hours to reduce pain, swelling, and risk of further injury range-of-motion and ankle strengthening exercises within 4872 hours and training to improve endurance and balance once recovery is well under way.
Generally, you can begin range-of-motion and stretching exercises within the first 48 hours and should continue until you’re as free of pain as you were before your sprain. Start to exercise seated on a chair or on the floor. As your sprained ankle improves, you can progress to standing exercises. If your symptoms aren’t better in two to four weeks, you may need to see a physical therapist or other specialist.
When To Worry About Sprained Ankle
It is not recommended that patients with a more severe ankle sprains, such as those characterized by extremely bruising or swelling, inability to bear weight on the foot without significant pain, or no improvement over the first few days after the injury, seek medical attention. The two men make a point.
A strained ankle is one that has been caused by an injury or tear to one or more of your ligaments on the outside of your ankle. A torn or sprained ankle can be difficult to determine without an X-ray. Minor ankle sprains do not typically require surgery, and rehabilitation is the most effective way to treat them. If your ankle is bruised or swollen, a doctor may immobilize it. When you want to elevate the foot, you can prop it up above your waist or heart by lying it down on your back. In a few days, swelling usually subsides. If your injury is Grade 2 and you are unable to heal faster, seek medical attention and allow for more time.
You can walk, jog, or run figure eights on your ankle taped or with a supportive ankle brace. If you do not complete rehabilitation, you may suffer from chronic pain, looseness, and arthritis in your ankle. When you feel pain or fatigue, take note of the warning signs in your body.
How Is An Ankle Ligament Tear Treated
Any treatment of an ankle ligament tear starts with a thorough diagnosis. This usually includes a physical examination to test your range of motion, stability and ability to weight bear and to review the history of the injury.
An MRI or an ultrasound scan may be used to assess ligament or other soft tissue damage, and an x-ray may also be necessary to check for a fracture.
Depending on the extent of the injury, treatment options include:
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How To Heal A Grade One Sprain
If you have a grade one sprained, you can rest it almost entirely at home. It is not severe, but the pain is intense. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are all recommended during the RICE protocol. Resting your ankle as much as possible in the first 48 hours after a sprain will reduce the stress on the inflamed ligaments, so you are less likely to aggravate the injury.
Can You Sprain Your Ankle By Sitting On It
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the individual and the extent of the injury. However, it is possible to sprain your ankle by sitting on it if you are not careful. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and be careful when sitting down to avoid this type of injury.
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Ankle Injuries When To See A Doctor
Ankle injuries are very common, especially if youre active or play sports. If you experience an injury or have sudden ankle pain, do you need medical attention? Or should you rest and see if it gets better?
If you have certain symptoms, do not try to tough it out or play through the pain, says Gregory Waryasz, MD, CSCS, a Mass General Brigham sports medicine specialist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. Dr. Waryasz is director of Foot and Ankle Sports Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, orthopaedic consultant for Northeastern University, and team physician for Boston Public Schools and the Boston Renegades Beep Baseball Team.
Sudden pain, swelling, trouble walking, and other symptoms can signal a need for medical attention. Waiting too long can lead to repeat injuries, more complex treatments, worse long-term results, and even arthritis.
Acute, sudden pain in the ankle with a trauma is often caused by an ankle injury, Dr. Waryasz says. If you feel a pop, or if you feel like someone kicked you in the back of the leg but nobodys there, then you should be seen within 24 to 48 hours.
To Regain Ankle Strength
After your child is walking around and is able to move his joints with little pain, have him start to work on balance:
Stand on the injured leg for up to 30 seconds. Practice with the hands held out to the sides or onto a table if needed. Try the exercise with eyes open or closed .
If your child is active in sports, talk with your childs coach or gym teacher about exercises for specific sports. Once your child has full range of motion of the ankle and is pain-free, he may go back to full activity.
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Ankle Injuries That Dont Require Medical Attention
If the pain is not severe, there is a full range of ankle motion, normal strength, sensation and no misalignment, there is no reason to rush to a doctor, Dr. Davis says.
First, treat the injury at home with the RICE method:
Rest Just as it sounds. Stay off the injured ankle to prevent more damage.Ice Apply a cold pack or ice bag for up to 20 minutes to reduce swelling and ease pain. Repeat four to eight times a day.Compression Wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage or compression wrap to help reduce swelling.Elevation Keep the ankle raised by resting it on a pillow or other elevated surface above heart level to reduce swelling and pain.
If symptoms get worse, then call your doctor, Dr. Davis says.
Anatomy Of An Ankle Sprain
The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion injury, or lateral ankle sprain. The foot rolls inward, damaging the ligaments of the outer ankle the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament.
Less common are sprains affecting the ligaments of the inner ankle and syndesmotic sprains, which injure the tibiofibular ligaments the ligaments that join the two leg bones just above the ankle. Syndesmotic sprains, which occur most often in contact sports, are especially likely to cause chronic ankle instability and subsequent sprains.
The severity of an ankle sprain depends on how much damage it does and how unstable the joint becomes as a result. The more severe the sprain, the longer the recovery .
Grades of ankle sprain severity
Mild pain, swelling, and tenderness. Usually no bruising. No joint instability. No difficulty bearing weight.
Moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness. Possible bruising. Mild to moderate joint instability. Some loss of range of motion and function. Pain with weight bearing and walking.
Full tear or rupture
Severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising. Considerable instability, loss of function and range of motion. Unable to bear weight or walk.
Up to several months
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Do Torn Ankle Ligaments Require Surgery
Many torn ankle ligaments recover well with a short period of rest, ice, compression and elevation , followed by a physical therapy programme focussed on building the strength around your ankle and improving mobility or an Aircast boot for complete tears.
In more severe cases, such as a complete rupture, or if there is bone or cartilage damage, surgery may be necessary to restore strength and stability.
Nonsurgical Treatments For Ankle Sprains
Most ankle sprains dont need surgery.
You should be able to recover from a minor, first-time sprain relatively quickly with home care. This includes treatments known as RICE therapy:
- Rest: Stay off your ankle until it doesnt hurt. Exercising before a sprain has fully healed may make it worse or increase your risk of re-injury.
- Ice: Place a wet towel on your ankle, then cover it with a plastic bag full of ice . Apply the ice for 10-20 minutes, then remove it for 40 minutes. Repeat this as often as you can during the first 48-72 hours after your injury.
- Compression: Wrap your ankle with an elastic bandage. This will help control swelling.
- Elevation: Recline on a bed, sofa, or chair and use a pillow to raise your ankle slightly higher than your hips.
If you have a moderate to severe sprainor home care doesnt helpyou may need additional nonsurgical treatment. These therapies include:
- Orthopedic devices: While you heal, certain medical equipment can help take pressure off your ankle or keep it stable. These include ankle braces, walking boots, and crutches.
- Rehabilitation: Our physical therapists can teach you exercises to improve your ankle strength, ankle flexibility, and balance.
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How Are Ankle Sprains Treated
Treatment for an ankle sprain usually includes:
- protecting the ankle by taping, wearing a lace-up ankle brace, or ankle splint
- rest to prevent reinjury and limit swelling. How long somebody needs to take it easy depends on the injury. If no ligaments tore, 1014 days might be long enough.
- treatments to help with swelling such as:
- ice wrapped in a towel placed on the area for about 20 minutes every 12 hours
- an elastic bandage wrapped around the area or elastic sleeve to provide compression
- raising the injured area
Doctors may treat a more serious ankle sprain with a splint or temporary cast. Very rarely, a person might need surgery.
Exercise And Movement For A Sprained Ankle
You may need to briefly rest your ankle after youve injured it. But its usually best to start moving it again and do some gentle exercises as soon as you can. This will help your ankle to get back to normal more quickly than keeping it still. Your doctor or physiotherapist may give you something to protect your ankle while youre moving it, like a brace or splint, if you need it.
If you have a particularly bad sprain, your doctor or physiotherapist may advise you to wear a cast, splint or brace to immobilise your ankle for a few days. This may help to reduce any pain and swelling around your ankle. Youll be advised to start moving and exercising your ankle once the period of immobilisation is over.
If youre at all worried about doing exercises or feel any pain, stop and speak to a doctor, nurse or physiotherapist before continuing. If youre not sure when and how to start exercising your ankle, you can check this with a doctor or physiotherapist.
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What Can I Expect If I Have A Sprained Ankle
After giving your ankle time to heal and treating the sprain according to your healthcare providers recommendations, you’ll be able to get back to regular activities. Your prognosis depends on your commitment to building strength back in your ankle through exercises and rehabilitation. If your ankle hasn’t healed completely or you stopped the strengthening exercises, your injured ligament could weaken and put you at risk for future ankle sprains.
What Do Doctors Do For A Sprained Ankle And Other Ankle Injuries
To diagnose ankle pain, a health care provider will ask you what happened, what symptoms you have and the exact location of the pain. Youll have a physical exam and may have imaging tests, such as an x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.
The anatomy of the foot and ankle is straightforward and can help us determine where the problem is, Dr. Waryasz says. For example, if you had some form of trauma and it hurts on the outside of your foot, then theres a chance you broke your fifth metatarsal bonethe long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe. If it hurts over your lateral ligaments but not over the bone, it would be more likely to be a lateral ankle sprain.
Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may suggest a brace, walking boot, splint, cast, and/or crutches. They also might recommend physical therapy , which teaches you exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your ankle. PT also can improve flexibility and balance. More severe injuries may require surgery.
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Diagnosis Of A Sprained Ankle
A doctor or physiotherapist will usually be able to diagnose a sprained ankle by asking about your symptoms and examining you. Theyll ask exactly how you hurt your ankle and if you could stand and walk afterwards. When they examine you, theyll check for pain, swelling and bruising around your ankle. They may also check how much you can move your ankle and if you can put any weight on your foot.
If your injury is particularly bad, your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend you have an X-ray to check whether or not your ankle is broken. Sometimes, they may also arrange ultrasound or MRI scans if they need a more detailed look at your ankle.
The Dangers Of Ignoring An Ankle Sprain
When two bones of the lower leg and upper leg are torn away at the same time, the ankle sprains are classified as partial or complete tears of the ligaments. Depending on the severity of the injury, there can be mild sprains and mild strains, or severe sprains and severe strains. It is common practice to walk on an ankle sprains without allowing them to heal, which can aggravate the injury. Its no surprise that ankle sprains are the most common cause of ankle injuries worsening. Rest, ice, and compression are recommended for an ankle sprain, and it is best to avoid any impact on the ankle for four to six weeks. Following that, the athlete will be required to undergo physical therapy to improve ankle flexibility and strength.
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Can Walking On A Sprained Ankle Make It Worse
This depends on the degree of your ankle injury. In general, remember RICE and try resting for 24-48 hours to allow for healing. If you can walk with minimal pain, then its ok to start walking short distances again.
Gradually build up the time you spend walking and make sure you can walk without pain before starting with jogging or running. Remember, if you feel significant pain reach out to your Primary Care Physician.
Can I Prevent A Sprained Ankle
It’s impossible to prevent all ankle sprains. But these tips can make another one less likely:
- Stretch regularly to keep your ankles flexible.
- Do ankle range of motion and strengthening exercises to keep your muscles strong.
- Always warm up before playing sports, exercising, or doing any other kind of physical activity.
- Watch your step when you’re walking or running on uneven or cracked surfaces.
- Don’t overdo things. Being tired can make an injury more likely.
- Use tape, lace-up ankle braces, or high-top shoes to support the ankle.
- Wear shoes that fit well. Tie any laces and close any Velcro or other straps to make the shoes as supportive as possible.
- Don’t wear shoes with high heels.
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Treatment Right After An Ankle Sprain
You may have heard the acronym RICE before. Right after a sprain you want to use the RICE method:
Rest for 24-48 hours.
Ice your ankle over 24-48 hours. Remember, only use ice for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time then give your skin a break.
You can ice again later but its important to let your skin breathe after.
Compression sleeves or wrapping can help reduce swelling. Just make sure the compression isnt too tight and cuts off circulation.
If you feel like your toes are tingling or are turning purple thats a sign the compression is too tight.
Elevate your ankle so that its above the heart to reduce swelling.
If swelling and pain doesnt improve at all after performing RICE for 24-48 hours contact your Primary Care Physician.
Remember, theres the possibility that your ligaments are torn and you could have broken a bone in your foot.
Your Primary Care Physician may recommend x-rays, an MRI, or using a boot based on your symptoms and history with ankle sprains.
Varying Degrees Of Ankle Sprains
A sprained ankle is a very common injury. A sprained ankle can happen to athletes and non-athletes, children and adults. It can happen when you take part in sports or even by stepping on an uneven surface.
Ankle sprains occur when the foot twists, turns or rolls beyond its normal motions. A sprain can also occur if the foot is planted unevenly on a surface, beyond the normal force of stepping. This causes the ligaments to stretch beyond their normal range in an abnormal position. A ligament is an elastic structure. Ligaments usually stretch within their limits, and then go back to their normal positions. When a ligament is forced to stretch beyond its normal range, a sprain occurs. A severe sprain causes actual tearing of the elastic fibers.
There are three grades for ankle sprains determined by the amount of force.
- Grade 1: Stretching or slight tearing of the ligament with mild tenderness, swelling and stiffness. The ankle feels stable and it is usually possible to walk with minimal pain.
- Grade 2: A more severe sprain, but incomplete tear with moderate pain, swelling and bruising. Although it feels somewhat stable, the damaged areas are tender to the touch and walking is painful.
- Grade 3: This is a complete tear of the affected ligament with severe swelling and bruising. The ankle is unstable and walking is likely not possible because the ankle gives out and there is intense pain.
Depending on the grade of injury, the following rehabilitation steps are suggested.
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