Physical Therapy for Ankle Sprains

Physical Therapy for Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can cause lifelong issues, including weakness and joint pain, if not treated early. Physical therapy is undoubtedly the best treatment for a sprained ankle since it allows individuals to regain strength, stability, and motion. Above all, it will enable you to get back to your normal activities and prevent re-injury.

Here is a comprehensive physical therapy guide for ankle sprains.


How Do Ankle Sprains Occur?

An ankle sprain occurs when you damage the ligaments in your ankle when you turn or twist your foot beyond its normal range of motion. Usually, ankle sprains occur to the outermost ligaments of your ankle. On average, ankle sprains take about two to eight weeks to heal completely. However, a severely sprained ankle takes nine months to 12 months to heal.  


Studies show 73% of people who have sprained their ankles are likely to be reinjured in the future. However, re-injury is more likely to occur if you fail to restore or improve muscle stability and strength. Thankfully, physical therapy can restore and enhance your muscle strength and balance beyond pre-injury levels.


Related: What are Soft Tissue Injuries? How to Prevent & Treat

Ankle Sprain Symptoms

Ankle sprain symptoms vary from one person to another depending on the severity. However, you are likely to experience pain, limited movement, and swelling after an ankle sprain. Here is how an ankle sprain feels:


  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Limited movement
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Ankle joint instability
  • Throbbing
  • Tenderness around the ankle


Why Physical Therapy is the Best Treatment for Ankle Sprains

Before anything else, your doctor will examine your health history and your ankle to begin physical therapy. You can expect to answer questions like how you got injured, whether you felt a snap, tear, or pop, the activities you struggle with, and what you intend to do after treatment.


After that, the doctor will gently press the area around your ankle to discover whether it is tender to the touch. From there, the doctor will conduct additional tests to assess your ankle flexibility and strength. The doctor can also examine other parts to determine if they are injured.


The doctor might ask you to walk or climb a stair to check your strengths and flexibility. Ankle sprains are classified into grades 1, 2, and 3. Grade 1 ankle sprains are mild and occur when the ligament is overstretched, while grade 2 sprains are moderate and occur when the ligament is partially torn. Grade 3 ankle sprains are severe and occur when the ligament is completely torn.


Depending on the ankle sprain, the doctor might also ask for additional imaging tests like MRI and CAT to diagnose and check for other injuries on the ankle. After the diagnosis, the physical doctor will recommend an effective strategy based on your specific needs. Here are some of the recommendations your physical doctor might make.


  • Get enough rest
  • Apply ice packs around the ankle for 15 to 20 minutes after every two hours
  • Use walking aids, like clutches for additional balance
  • Use ankle braces to stabilize your ankle and reduce swelling


Apart from these self-care tips, the physical doctor will also focus on:


  • Improving your flexibility
  • Enhancing your motion
  • Reducing swelling and pain
  • Increasing your endurance
  • Improving your balance
  • Restoring agility
  • Patient education
  • Fast recovery


Get Reliable Physical Therapy for Ankle Sprains

The multidisciplinary team at La Clínica is ready to help you overcome your ankle sprain so that you can get back to what matters most to you. Contact us to learn more.