Treatment for ankle sprains
How to treat an ankle sprain
For a lot of athletes, spraining an ankle is a common occurrence. It can be a painful and debilitating experience if such injuries are not treated properly. It is important to note that there is a 40% chance of re-spraining your ankle if you don’t proper rehabilitation after your ankle sprain.
At The Rehab Centre, we seek to help you recover from an ankle sprain through an individualised approach that focuses on restoring the mobility of your sprained foot or unstable ankle joint. We seek to help you strengthen your ankle after a sprain.
What to do when you sprain your ankle
Is your ankle sprain is severe?
Ankle sprains are common injuries on the sporting field or even during our everyday lives. It can happen due to sudden changes in direction during a sporting activity or sometimes when missing a step whilst going down the stairs. The following questions should be considered to determine if there is a need for a visit to the hospital.
- Is it difficult to bear weight on the injured limb?
- Did you hear a loud crack or pop when you injured yourself?
- Any visible bony deformities?
If you have answered YES to all three of the above, it is advisable to call 995 for help, if you’re in Singapore!
What does an ankle sprain feel like
What are the symptoms of ankle sprain?
Identifying an ankle sprain can be tricky, but several tell-tale signs may help you develop a provisional diagnosis. Such symptoms include:
- Localised redness and swelling that can appear on the inside or outside of your ankle
- Feelings of instability when walking
- Loss of mobility/ stiffness at the ankle
- Pain that is localised, usually on the outside of the ankle
- Localised tenderness when upon palpation on the outside of the ankle over the swollen area
- Difficulty going up and down the stairs
What to do after ankle sprain
Initial management of ankle sprains
RICE for ankle sprains has been updated! You should immediately practice first aid to reduce pain and swelling when treating recurrent sprains. PEACE and LOVE is what you should remember:
P – rotection – avoiding painful activities and movements
E – levation – keeping the limb above the level of the heart whenever possible
A – void Anti-inflammatories – unless pain is unbearable, anti-inflammatories are not advised as it might slow down recovery
C – ompression – using an external bandage to keep the injured ankle compressed
E – ducation – understanding the injury would lead to better outcomes
L – oad – progressive load to the ankle and resumption of activities
O – ptimism – maintaining a positive attitude towards the recovery process, most ankle sprains do well without surgery!
V – ascularisation – with advice from your physiotherapist, start a cardiovascular activity
E – xercise – progressive exercise that is specific to an ankle sprain will ensure good recovery
Ankle sprain treatment
Treatment of ankle sprains at The Rehab Centre
Another ankle sprain. Pain, swelling, frustration. Questions. “How long does an ankle sprain take to heal”, “how to tape an ankle sprain”, “how to recover from ankle sprain” or “why do i always sprain my ankle” are probably some of the many questions you might ask after you’ve hurt yourself.
How can Physiotherapy help when you’ve sprained your ankle?
The role of Physiotherapy is to ensure that the ligament is adequately protected and the muscles surrounding the ankle are strong enough to return to function or sport. Your Physiotherapist at The Rehab Centre will thoroughly examine your ankle ligaments and determine which are the affected movements. This would include an assessment of the range of movements in your ankle joint and foot, your calf strength, and the flexibility of the surrounding muscles.
Treatment for ankle sprain may include but is not limited to the following:
How to recover from an ankle sprain
Exercises for ankle sprains
After an ankle injury, initial treatment and exercise are essential to improve ankle strength, movement and balance. This improves ankle stability and reduces the time to return to pre-injury activity. Rehabilitation exercises for ankle injuries typically consist of the following:
Active range of motion exercises
- Strength training for your foot and ankle muscles
- Neuromuscular training to improve control and stability
- Balance training to improve ankle proprioception of joint awareness
- Plyometric drills to imporve sport performance after an ankle sprain
How long does an ankle sprain take to heal
Recovery time after an ankle sprain
The duration of recovery from previous ankle injury depends greatly on the severity of the injury. A longer recovery time should be expected for more severe cases of ankle sprains. In general, the time taken for recovery from lateral ankle sprains is as follows:
- Grade 1 (mild) ankle sprains: 3 to 5 weeks
- Grade 2 (moderate) ankle sprains: 4 to 6 weeks
- Grade 3 (severe) ankle sprains: 3 to 6 months
For syndesmotic “high ankle” sprains, the rehabilitation program period is usually longer than that of lateral ankle sprains. Studies have shown that syndesmotic and recurrent ankle sprains may need twice as long to heal compared to grade 3 lateral ankle sprains.
The ligaments undergo a healing process that consists of 3 distinct phases: the inflammatory phase, the reparative phase, and the remodeling phase.
The inflammatory phase of a sprain typically lasts between 24 and 72 hours. White blood cells migrate to the site of the injured ligament to clear debris and damaged cells and promote the formation of new blood vessels. After 3 to 5 days, the reparative healing phase begins, with the damaged ligament repaired with new connective tissue. By 10 to 14 days, the ruptured ligaments are reconnected with disorganised collagen, allowing the ligament to resist low-level tensile forces.
After the inflammatory phase, within 3 to 5 days following the injury, the reparative phase of healing begins. During this phase, the damaged ligament is repaired with new connective tissue. By 10 to 14 days post-sprain, the ruptured ligaments are reconnected with disorganised collagen, allowing the ligament to resist low-level tensile forces.
The remodelling phase occurs after the reparative phase and typically starts between 15 and 28 days after the ankle sprain. During this phase, disorganised collagen fibres mature and become organised, allowing the ligament to regain approximately 60% of its tensile strength by three weeks post-sprain. Pre-injury strength may be recovered three months after the first acute ankle sprain.