When you experience an ankle sprain you can come directly to a physical therapist, where they’ll examine your ankle to find the source of pain and test your strength, flexibility, and the amount of laxity in your ankle ligament(s). Once they’ve done the necessary clinical tests to determine the severity of your injury, your ankle sprain will be classified in one of three categories:
While recovery time will vary based on the severity of the sprain—anywhere from a few weeks to a few months—your physical therapist will pinpoint the problem areas and provide a plan to allow your body to recover most effectively.
During your physical therapy for sprained ankle injuries, your physical therapist will restore normal joint mechanics and treat soft tissue through manual therapy: skilled, hands-on techniques that help to reduce inflammation and muscle tightness, address ankle stiffness, improve range of motion, and minimize pain. The benefits of manual therapy can’t be achieved through just regular exercise so make sure your physical therapist incorporates this treatment technique as part of your sprained ankle physical therapy program.
Your physical therapist will also look to make sure you can keep your balance and that you maintain proper control while also assessing your leg alignment. They’ll look at the intrinsic foot muscles, small muscles in the bottom of the foot which are inhibited during a sprain, to make sure that your feet are relaxed and not gripping the ground with your toes. Your treatment may also address:
It’s an unfortunate truth that once a person suffers an ankle sprain, they are more likely to injure that ankle again.
Your physical therapist will also give you advice on how to reduce your risk of re-injuring your ankle including: