Most people equate an ankle sprain to a sports injury. The reality is, ankle sprains happen to all walks of life. You don’t have to be an athlete or even a “weekend warrior’’ to suffer an ankle sprain. Something as simple as walking on uneven surfaces can cause a painful, debilitating sprain. Research suggest that most ankle sprains occur to men between the ages of 15-25 and women 25-35 with the most common in women in aforementioned age range. In the United States alone, approximately 25,000 ankle sprains occur daily and an estimated 1 million people visit the emergency room per year for an ankle injury, most of which are ankle sprains.
Sprains are injuries to ligaments of a joint. Ligaments are strong elastic bands of connective tissue that connect bones together, keeping bones in their proper position while allowing normal motion of a joint. Most ankle sprains occur as a result of tripping or falling, when the foot is planted awkwardly, when the ground is uneven, or when an unusual amount of force is applied to the joint. Ankle sprains, as with any sprain, occur when the joint is twisted too far out of its normal position, causing the ligaments to stretch beyond their normal length. If the force is too great, the ligaments may suffer a complete tear.
Ankle sprains have a range of severity from mild to severe. Physical Therapist and other healthcare professionals grade sprains from 1 to 3, given the amount of ligament damage. A grade 1 sprain is mild, 2 moderate and 3 severe, respectively. Ankle sprains are also classified as acute, chronic or recurrent. Acute ankle sprains have occurred recently, usually within the past few days and is in an active stage of healing. A chronic sprain continues to cause symptoms beyond the expected time for normal healing and recurrent sprains occur easily and frequently and typically with only minimal force. Recurrent sprains typically are the result of an instability and often times require surgical intervention. At times, chronic and recurrent sprains can be the result of faulty biomechanics (or how the foot/ankle move during gait) and may require custom orthotics.
With most sprains, pain is felt at the site of ligament tear immediately. With more severe sprains, one may feel a pop, snapping or tearing sensation. Generally, swelling will occur almost immediately. The area is typically tender to touch, and movement is uncomfortable. Bruising throughout the entire ankle/foot is also common. Ankle sprains that are more severe will most often yield greater bruising.
The first 24 to 48 hours following a sprain; rest, ice, elevation and the use of an elastic bandage can help promote healing and diminish pain. After this stage, Physical Therapy will promote a more rapid return to your prior level of function. Without proper instruction/rehabilitation, serious problems can arise such as decreased movement, chronic swelling/pain and potentially an instability which may limit your ability to perform certain functional task.
As your recovery begins, Physical Therapy will be an integral part of your return to normal function. Initially, range of motion and balance/proprioceptive or body awareness exercises will be implemented into your rehabilitation program. As you continue to heal, strengthening exercises, functional training and activity specific training will be provided to be sure to return you to your optimal functional level, regardless of what that may be.
At Progressive Physical Therapy, each patient is treated as an individual. Your therapy program will be tailored to your individual needs. Continuity of care is also a hallmark of our treatment philosophy. With a few exceptions, patients are seen by the same provider on each visit, which lends to a more rapid recovery rate. If you suffer an ankle sprain or any other injury, come to Progressive Physical Therapy and allow us to return you to your prior level of function. For more information regarding ankle sprain, other ailments, as well as all of the services we have to offer, visit our website at www.progressive-pt.net, or call the clinic at (301) 729-3485.