Ankle sprains are a common but painful injury that can result at any time: on the sports field, ski slopes or by walking across your living room. The ankle is made up of three bones: the tibia, fibula and talus. Ligaments, tendons and muscles work together to stabilize this joint when you move. When an ankle is sprained, the ligaments are damaged, stretched, partially or completely torn. Its severity is graded on a scale by doctors and physiotherapists, with Grade I as mild, Grade II as medium, and Grade III as severe.
Initial treatment for any type of sprain follows the acronym “RICE”, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. By following the RICE guide and receiving other appropriate treatment, the majority of sprains will heal in three to eight weeks. However, the more severe the sprain, the longer it will take to heal.
A visit to a physiotherapist when the pain is first felt can reduce healing time. They can explain how to most effectively use rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce your pain and speed your recovery. Personalized physio treatments, stretching and exercises will also promote quick healing.
Stretching is important and will help you regain your ability to use your ankle, increase circulation, and maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Stretches for an ankle sprain focuses on the calves, hamstrings and other leg muscles. Make sure that you never stretch too far that it hurts. Always stretch in a pain-free range.
The severity of the sprain will determine when you are able to safely move the ankle joint. Once the ankle has healed to a certain point, your physiotherapist may recommend exercise programs to strengthen your ankle and leg muscles. Strengthening exercises often include balancing, such as doing one-legged balances or movements on a wobble board. As with stretching, exercises should only be done within a pain-free range.
Protect the injured ankle while it is healing and minimize the risk of re-injury by wearing a brace or taping your ankle. Gradually increase exercise until you have achieved pre-injury activity levels. Make sure to always warm up before an activity, recognize your body’s limitations, and rest your ankle during your daily routine.
Early Treatment is Key
You can never have your ankle sprain treated too soon. Talk to your physiotherapist as soon as possible so they can assess your injury and begin a rehabilitation program tailored to your needs. Call Brooksbank 604.973.0242 or Deep Cove 604.929.8444 to book an appointment today.