Ankle sprains are one of the most commonly treated orthopedic injuries seen in Physical Therapy. Unfortunately, due to the high frequency of ankle sprains, people usually ignore the symptoms and go untreated, often progressing to chronic ankle instabilities. At our clinic in Springfield, PA, our goal is to not only treat ankle sprains quickly, but also to educate our patients on prevention strategies to avoid long-term issues. Here are some helpful tips on preventing and treating lateral ankle sprains.
- Limited calf flexibility
- Limited ankle range of motion
- Weak ankle muscles
- Poor balance
- Poor cardiovascular endurance
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the ankle sprain and patient goals. Here are a few commonly used physical therapy interventions:
- Manual therapy: joint mobilizations and muscle stretches are useful for improving ankle stiffness commonly seen preceding or following ankle sprains. Manual therapy can reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and increase ankle motion to improve function
- Balance/Proprioception Training: exercises performed on one leg or over different surfaces (foam, grass, etc) can strengthen the smaller muscles that stabilize the ankle joint, helping prevent falls and increase stability.
- Aquatic Exercises: performing exercises in an aquatic environment helps decrease the load placed through the ankle joint, allowing our patients the opportunity to tolerate more activities with less pain or fatigue. Body-weight reduction can be as much as a 50-75% decreases, depending on the patient’s height. Decreases in joint swelling can also be appreciated when exercising in a pool.
As the weather becomes warmer and we start doing more activities outside, it is important to protect against ankle injuries, whether acute, recurrent, or chronic. If you have any issues or concerns please consult your physician and stop by our clinic for a comprehensive evaluation.
Stay healthy my friends,
Cole Racich, PT, DPT