Almost all of us have experienced to rehab an injured ankle due to a mild strain or sprain during our lifetime. But regardless of the type of injury, patients have one thing in common: they want to rehab an injured ankle and heal as soon as possible, particularly if they’re athletes.
Each situation and injury is unique, and there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” treatment approach. However, ankle injury rehab can be similar for many people, and it’s important to take it step by step to make a complete recovery.
This article will discuss the basic steps to rehab an injured ankle and determine when you’re good to get back to your normal activities.
The initial treatment to rehab an injured ankle is the “RICE” treatment method. That is focused on reducing pain and swelling:
Rest: The first to the second day after the injury is a critical therapy period. Limit ventures and utilize an assistive device, such as a crutch, if you need to walk. After you relax your ankle for one or two days, you could gradually start to put weight on it as soon as you can walk without limping. You will not need to utilize a crutch.
Ice: Putting cold to the injury helps reduce swelling and relieve pain. While ice packs can be helpful, special ice wraps are created to mold to your joint.
Compression: Put compression in the early stage of ankle sprain treatment. With an elastic wrap (such as an Ace bandage), wrap the ankle from the toes up to the top of your calf muscle, crisscrossing the elastic wrap by one-half of the wrap’s width. The wrap must be snug but shouldn’t cut off circulation to the foot.
Elevation: Prop up the ankle and keep it higher than the heart as often as possible. That helps reduce swelling. Remember that propping your ankle on a chair while sitting up doesn’t keep it above the heart.
Range of Motion Exercises
For most, ankle sprains do not need to be immobilized with a cast or boot to avoid movement. Simple exercises are a vital part of therapy.
The initial step toward recovery is by regaining the ability to move your ankle normally. Swelling and pain can both limit movement, so acknowledge those first. Check with a healthcare provider to know when starting range-of-motion activities is okay.
Range of Motion Activities to Rehab an Injured Ankle
After reducing pain and swelling and achieving simple motion, it’s time to strengthen your ankle. Injuries, including sprains, could weaken your ankle and make it more vulnerable to another injury. Strengthening exercises could help you get back to your normal routine without worrying about another sprain.
Simple strengthening activities involve work with resistance bands, lunges, and toe raises. A physical therapist could help you in targetting specific muscles that might have been injured and make sure that you’re properly performing the exercises.
Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense its position and movement. It enables you to move your body without thinking about every single move. Good proprioceptive training (also known as balance training) can help prevent future injuries to the ankle.
Proprioception exercises involve standing on one leg to perform simple activities (such as throwing a ball) or balancing on a single leg with your eyes closed. Training the ankle to be more stable with these activities can improve your overall recovery.
The last stage of recovery from an ankle injury is to conduct endurance and agility exercises. This might include drills aimed at jumping, pivoting, or cutting, such as those that copy movements of your chosen sport or activity.
Doing these activities in a safe, controlled environment is important to rehab an injured ankle. Performing activity-specific drills could help your body prepare for the activity, rather than having to react to an in-game event suddenly.
Unfortunately, numerous athletes neglect this step and return to sports too soon. If the injury isn’t completely healed and the body is not fully ready, there’s a risk of re-injuring the ankle. And the recovery from a second injury might be longer and more complicated.
Why Is It Important to Rehab an Injured Ankle
Below are three benefits that physical therapy-based ankle injury treatment could provide to people who use it.
1. Reduces pain faster
It isn’t new that one of the most stressful symptoms of an ankle injury is pain. This pain is often the result of the overstretching or tearing of tendons in the ankle, and there are numerous ways to treat this pain. Many people depend on rest and other at-home remedies to treat this symptom. If you go and see a doctor for the injury, they might give you a set of exercises to do at home.
Nevertheless, one study published by the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) provides interesting information about such methods. It states that home exercise programs alone only allowed for a 39% reduction in pain in four weeks. However, patients in the same study who utilized physical therapy to address their ankle injury saw a 70% pain reduction in the exact four-week period.
2. Restores normal function more quickly
People with an ankle injury often have a hard time walking; however, physical therapy could also help treat loss of function. The JOSPT study showed that patients who used physical therapy for their injury regained function more rapidly. Patients in the physical therapy study group had 14% more ankle function four weeks after their injury compared to the non-physical therapy group.
3. Helps You Return to Sports Faster
For people who got ankle injuries playing sports, the faster they can recover, the better they want it. That is also true for all those with the need to rehab an injured ankle. Since physical therapy could help rehab an injured ankle, reduce pain and restore function faster, it also helps people play sports sooner.
Additionally, physical therapists could help you learn movements and stretches that can help avoid future ankle injuries. That can be very helpful since roughly 80% of the people who sprained an ankle sprain the same ankle again.
Are you searching for a professional physical therapy crew to help you deal with an ankle injury? We at Precision Sports Physical Therapy could also build you a personalized treatment plan for your injury.
How to heal an injured ankle?
As a rule of thumb, rest, ice, compression, and lastly, elevation must be used for the initial 48 to 72 hours after an injury, even though it could be necessary to let the joint rest and use assistive devices for a much longer period of time. Following the initial 72 hours, heat therapy could be used to help the body’s natural healing process.
How to rehabilitate a broken ankle?
When your ankle recuperates and heals, you would need to rehabilitate it to help it get back in good motion. Physical therapy can get you there, and your physical therapist can create a customized treatment plan for you.