Ankle Sprain Treatment & Recovery

Ankle Sprain Treatment & Recovery

Ankle sprains are very common injuries, especially during basketball season. Just because they’re common doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be properly treated. If a sprain is not treated properly it can lead to long-term problems. Sprains that cause pain along the outer side of the ankle are more common and generally less serious. If you’re experiencing pain along the inner side of the ankle it may represent a more serious injury and needs be evaluated by a doctor.

Most ankle sprains do not require surgery, and minor sprains are best treated with a functional rehabilitation program. Depending on how many ligaments are injured, your sprain will be classified as Grade I, II or III.

Treating your Sprained Ankle

Treating a sprained ankle properly can help prevent chronic pain and instability. For a Grade I sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines:

  • Rest your ankle. An ankle brace can help control swelling and add stability while the ligaments are healing.
  • Ice it to keep the swelling down. Don’t put ice directly on the skin (use a thin piece of cloth such as a pillow case between the ice bag and the skin) and don’t ice more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.
  • Compression can help control swelling as well as immobilize and support your injury.
  • Elevate the foot by reclining and propping it up above the waist or heart as needed.

Swelling will generally go down within a few days.

For a Grade II sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines and allow additional healing time. You may need to immobilize or splint the ankle.

A Grade III sprain puts you at risk for permanent ankle instability. In rare cases surgery may be needed to repair the damage. For severe ankle sprains you need to see a doctor, they may consider treating you with a short leg cast or walking boot for two to three weeks. People who sprain their ankle repeatedly may also need surgical repair to tighten their ligaments.

Rehabilitating a sprained ankle

Every ligament injury needs rehabilitation. Otherwise, a sprained ankle may not completely heal, leading to another injury. All ankle sprains, from mild to severe, need three phases of recovery:

  • Phase I includes resting, protecting and reducing swelling of your injured ankle.
  • Phase II includes restoring your ankle’s flexibility, range of motion and strength.
  • Phase III includes gradually returning to straight-ahead activity and doing maintenance exercises, followed by a full return to sports.

It’s important to complete the rehabilitation program because it makes it less likely that you’ll hurt the same ankle again. If you don’t complete rehabilitation, you could suffer chronic pain, instability and arthritis in your ankle. If your ankle still hurts, it could mean that the sprained ligament has not healed right, or that some other injury also happened.

If you’ve sprained an ankle and need help with rehabilitation give LOPT a call today.

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