How can Physiotherapy Help with Recovering from an Ankle Sprain?

What is a Sprained Ankle?

A sprained ankle is the overstretching of the ligaments in your ankle. Ankle sprains can vary in severity, from mild injuries such as a twisted or rolled ankle through to severe injuries such as ligament ruptures, avulsion fractures or broken bones.

What are the Causes of a Sprained Ankle?

So, what actually causes ankle sprains? Commonly, an ankle sprain occurs when the foot suddenly twists or rolls, forcing the ankle joint to move out of its normal position. During physical activity, the ankle may twist inward due to an unexpected or sudden movement. When this happens, it can cause one or more ligaments around the ankle to stretch or tear; resulting in a sprained ankle.

Symptoms to Look Out For

There are specific characteristics to look out for that indicate an ankle sprain. There will be some swelling or bruising around the ankle as a result of the ligament tears. In addition to this, you may also feel some pain and discomfort when placing weight on the affected area.

There are some other symptoms you can look out for too. These symptoms are:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Inability to weight bear
  • Skin discolouration
  • Stiffness

If you find that you are experiencing some of these symptoms, get in touch with UK Physio today. Our physiotherapy clinic in Basingstoke has a team of experienced physiotherapists who will advise and help rebuild the strength in your ankle.

The Treatment for an Ankle Sprain

There are multiple ways that you can treat a sprained ankle yourself at home. With minor sprains, it is recommended to wear a brace support on your ankle and keep it elevated. This will help keep the ankle still, supported and reduce swelling due to the compression of the support.

To accompany this, applying an ice pack to the ankle three to four times a day for about 20 minutes will help with the reduction of pain, swelling and bruising. Typically, those who have an ankle injury seek physiotherapy to help rebuild the strength, functionality and mobility of the ankle. At UK Physio, we have a team of professionally trained physiotherapists in Cambridge who will carry out the proven treatments to increase the healing of an injured ankle.

Recovering with Physiotherapy

Engaging in physiotherapy is an excellent way to rehabilitate an ankle sprain as it restores the motion, strength and stability of the joint. Your physiotherapist may carry out a treatment called ‘Joint Mobilisation’. This helps to improve the normal joint motion by restoring the natural gliding motion between the ankle bones. In doing this, the physiotherapist will help enhance the mobility and speed up the healing of your ankle after a sprain.

Damage to the lateral ankle ligament structure is one of the most common injuries in the ankle to sportsmen and women and will usually involve a twisting inward of the foot causing a forcible stretch to the ligaments beyond their normal levels of load. This overstretching and load to the ligament can then lead to small tears and disruption to the dense bands of fibrous collagen connective tissue which form the ligament structure. It is an extremely common injury for a variety of dynamic sports including football, netball, rugby, hockey as well as many other sports due to the rapid dynamic twisting motions the ankle joint will sustain during these sports.

Ligament injuries are classified on a grading system; ‘Grade I’, ‘Grade II’ & ‘Grade III’.

A ‘Grade I’ is a mild ligament tear with minor disruption and damage to the collagen ligament fibres and usually one could expect to recover from this injury in a few weeks and return to playing at full competitive level. More serious injuries are ‘Grade II’ which is a moderate tear of the ligament fibres which can take up to 6-8 weeks to heal. Finally, a ‘Grade III’ injury is classified as a complete rupture, which is a very significant injury taking typically 3-6 months to recover from, and in some cases up to 12 months.

If you are involved in a bad sprain at high force, and you are unable to weight bear afterwards with significant swelling immediately, there may be more extensive damage, and it is best in these cases to visit A&E to get an x-ray to rule out a fracture.

Any acute ankle sprain should follow in the first 72 hours after injury the ‘PRICE’ regime of Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation to help reduce swelling, internal bleeding and pain. A physiotherapy rehabilitation regime which will involve restoring full joint range of movement, reducing any swelling and pain through electrotherapy and specific massages to the ligament to promote prevention of scar tissue formation and aid healing of the ligament with correct fibre alignment. Once this has been achieved, and healing is well underway, careful,  progressive loading and functional exercises will help to build strength and stability to aid a swift return to engage in physical activities. At UK Physio we have a team of expert physios on hand to help you improve the strength of your ankle to allow you to participate in your chosen activity.

There is a technique called ‘taping’ which your physiotherapist may use to aid in the healing of your ankle. After carrying out a selection of strengthening and mobility exercises, your physiotherapist may engage in a taping method to provide your ankle with additional support after your session. In doing this, the tape will help improve ankle functions such as the range of motion, motor coordination and help activate stability. The tape will be applied as soon as the swelling has decreased and it will be wrapped around the ankle in a specific way to ensure that the injured area is well supported.

Summary

So, from this, we can understand that spraining your ankle is a very common injury and it can vary in severity. If your ankle is causing you some discomfort, there are some symptoms you can look out for. These include physical changes such as swelling, bruising and skin discolouration; alongside this, you are likely to experience an increased amount of pain and may have difficulty applying weight to the affected area.

If you are suffering from an ankle ligament sprain and you are keen to get back to health and function as soon as possible, it is recommended to book in with an expert physiotherapist to assess the damage and treat the injury appropriately. Delaying treatment can delay your recovery and causes compensations to other areas of the body. At UK Physio our team of highly trained and experienced physiotherapists are on hand to get you back to function as soon as possible. If you are in Cambridge and are in need of expert treatment why not get in touch.