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Ankle Sprains – How Your Physiotherapist Can Help

By August 23, 2019Physiotherapy

Almost everyone has experienced the pain of an ankle sprain of some kind or another.  It’s a very common injury that can happen during sports just as easily as it can happen slipping on the stairs.  Who hasn’t rolled their ankle at some point and hoped that the inevitable swelling and pain that ensues wouldn’t keep them off their feet for too long?

A sprained ankle can seem like no big deal, but the truth is, a serious sprain can mean ligaments that are pulled or torn, resulting in significant pain and an extended healing time.  In fact, sprains can often take longer to heal than a break that would be set in a cast.  Receiving appropriate care for your sprain can speed recovery time and avoid re-injury to the joint.

Home Care For Ankle Sprains

If you have a mild sprain, you may be able to treat it at home.  If the swelling isn’t too severe and the pain is bearable, you can try some basic first aid to see if you can relieve your symptoms on your own within a couple of days.

  • Ice: Applying ice packs to the area can help reduce pain.  Try icing for 20 minutes at a time and repeat every couple of hours.  Be sure not to expose your bare skin to ice, which can damage your skin.
  • Elevation: Elevating your ankle with pillows can help to reduce swelling and drain fluids that may have built up in the area.  For best results, keep the foot above your heart whenever possible.
  • Rest: An important part of healing a sprain is to rest the injured area.  Repeated use or pressure can prolong recovery and may even lead to further injury, use your foot and ankle only as much as tolerated.   Using a crutch or a cane may be required for a short time as the injured tissues heal.
  • Over the Counter Medications: Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are likely all you will need for a mild sprain.  They can help to alleviate discomfort while you heal.  Always ask for medical advice from a physician or the pharmacist prior to taking any medications.
  • Compression: Wrapping your foot in a compression bandage can help to give support to the joint and may actually help with pain and swelling as well.  Be sure not to bandage too tightly, and don’t leave it on all of the time.

Physiotherapy for Moderate to Severe Sprains

If your sprain isn’t healing after a couple of days of home care, or you can tell that you have a more significant injury that requires professional help, make an appointment with your physiotherapist right away.

Diagnosis:  Your physiotherapist will assess your injury and make a proper diagnosis of the sprain.  If there’s any suspicion of a fracture, you may be sent for diagnostic imaging just to be sure.  Once we have a clear idea of the extent of your sprain, your range of motion and level of pain, we can establish a rehabilitation plan to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

Treatment Plan:  Your physiotherapist will use a number of exercises and techniques to help restore your mobility and flexibility.  Our goal is to restore function and relieve pain and swelling in the joint.  You will also be provided with exercises to be completed at home, as well as instructions to rest your ankle as much as possible to accelerate recovery and reduce the risk of re-injury.

At Home Support:  In the case of severe sprains, you may need some mobility devices such a cane or a bath seat to help you stay off your foot.  Your physiotherapist can help you decide which, if any, of these devices are right for you.

If you’ve experienced a sprain and need our help bouncing back, give us a call for a consultation today.  Proper diagnosis and treatment are key in making a full recovery – so you can get back to your day to day life as quickly as possible.