Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries a person can suffer. They occur when the ligaments that support the ankle become stretched or torn due to rapid movement, an awkward landing, or direct impact. Ankle sprains are very painful and can cause severe swelling, bruising, instability in your ankle joint, and difficulty walking. It is important to seek medical attention immediately following an ankle sprain as it may require additional treatment beyond what you can do at home.
If you are suffering from an ankle sprain, here’s all you need to know about its causes and how physical therapy for ankle injuries can help.
Ankle Anatomy: Sprains Explained
To understand a sprained ankle, it is helpful to understand the anatomy of an ankle joint. The ankle is composed of three bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus. These bones are held together by several groups of ligaments which provide stability and allow for proper movement. When any one or more of these ligaments become stretched beyond their natural range due to trauma or stress, it causes a sprain.
Sprains can be classified as either inversion (rolling inwards) or eversion (rolling outwards). Inversion sprains occur when there is too much tension on the outside ligaments of the ankle joint, causing them to tear or stretch too far. Eversion sprains happen when the inside ligaments of the ankle are stretched or torn, usually due to overstretching and rotation.
The Most Common Causes and Symptoms of Ankle Sprains
The most common cause of ankle sprains is a sudden twist or turn in the wrong direction. This can happen when you step on an uneven surface, land awkwardly from a jump, or experience direct trauma to the ankle joint. Other factors that can increase your risk for an ankle sprain include poor flexibility or strength in the muscles around your ankle, weak ligaments and tendons, and wearing improper footwear during physical activities.
Common symptoms of an ankle sprain include sharp pain in the affected area, instability while walking or running, and limited range of motion with swelling and bruising around the joint. Ankle sprains can vary in severity depending on how many ligaments are stretched or torn.
Injury Assessment: Diagnosis
If you suspect you have sprained your ankle, it’s important to seek professional medical attention. A doctor or physical therapist can assess the severity of the injury and determine whether imaging tests, such as an MRI or X-ray, are necessary to identify any structural damage. USA Sports has an X-Ray machine in the office that allows walk-in patients to receive diagnosis and treatment. Depending on the results of these tests, treatment for an ankle sprain may involve a combination of physical therapy treatments, including ice therapy, compression, stretching and strengthening exercises, bracing or taping of the joint, and medications and/or surgery for more severe cases.
How Does Physical Therapy Work for Ankle Sprains?
Physical therapy is typically the most recommended treatment for ankle sprains. Physical therapy for sprains generally involves a variety of treatments designed to reduce pain and swelling, improve joint range of motion and strength, decrease the risk of re-injury, and return the patient to their pre-injury level of activity. When you visit a physical therapist, they will create an individualized plan that may consist of various treatments.
Ice therapy is often used to provide immediate relief and reduce inflammation. Compression bandages or wraps are also used to minimize swelling. Passive modalities, such as ultrasound, may be applied to reduce pain levels and increase mobility. Stretching exercises target the affected muscles, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues surrounding the joint. Strengthening exercises focus on increasing muscle power so that the injured area can better support the body weight when performing activities with greater forces or load bearing.
Where Can I Find an Ankle Pain Therapist in South Florida?
At USA Sports Medicine, our team of physical therapists are orthopedic qualified and experienced in providing the most appropriate treatment for ankle sprains. When you visit our clinics in South Florida, we will assess your condition, provide a tailored rehabilitation plan to meet your individual requirements, and closely monitor your progress throughout the recovery period.
So, if you are looking for a clinic offering ankle pain treatment in Wellington or Boca, call us to book a consultation and get started on your path to recovery.