Ankle Sprain and Recovery Time

Ankle Sprain Causes

It is very common to find the ankle joint afflicted by injuries and the most common form is a sprain. Anatomically, various ligaments that are stretched or torn surround the ankle joint when it is forced to land in different unnatural positions. This is a frequent occurrence during exercises, playing certain sports or by accident.

Ankle Sprain

The usual presentation could be an individual landing his foot forcefully on an uneven surface, or the foot is turned

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inwards suddenly with force. This force in-turn stresses the ligaments that help stabilize the outer part of the joint. There might be a history of sudden snap/pop when this type of injury happens.

Severity level of Ankle Sprain

The ankle sprain ranges in severity from grade-I to grade-III, depending on the extent of injury to the ligament. An examination of the ankle reveals swelling and discoloration due to the accumulation of blood and fluid.

Ankle Sprain and Recovery

Prolonged immobilization in cases of ankle sprain is a common treatment error. Early mobilization stimulates collagen bundle orientation thereby promoting healing and regaining the range of motion.

Improper rehabilitation may result in instability vis-à-vis a balanced deficit that increases the risk of re-injury. Returning to activity without proper healing or inadequate rehabilitation can also lead to instability.

Patients can be declared fit to return to normal activity only after taking into consideration the following points:

1. When there is a full range of motion of the ankle.
2. Ability to walk without a limp.
3. 80-90 percent strength when compared to healthy ankle.
4. Pain-free hopping possible on the affected limb.

The patients not treated adequately experience a feeling of “giving away” of the ankle. On an uneven surface, while climbing stairs, such individuals are good candidates for a recurrent ankle sprain.

Treatment at the initial stage aims at reducing post-injury swelling, bleeding, and pain, especially during the first 24 hours. Hot fomentation should be avoided as it increases swelling. Avoid Aspirin intake (as it prolongs the blood clotting time thereby extending bleeding).

Keep the leg and foot elevated by placing a pillow. This will reduce pain and swelling.

PROTECTION OF THE ANKLE during the initial healing phase is critical. Taping, ankle stir-up, brace/crepe bandage

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and in severe cases leg cast is applied. In some instances crutches are used until pain-free weight bearing is achieved.

Once pain-free motion is attained, strengthening exercises are advised with the utilization of a stretch band.

1. Sit on the floor or chair, looping strap over the foot with the heel on the floor ankle is moved outwards/ inward, upward and downward.

2.Heel/toe raises: Standing on a step with heels slightly off the step, slowly rise on toes and then slowly bring the heel down. When this is easily done, exercise only the injured ankle in a pain-free motion.

3. Balance exercises: While standing, raise one foot off the floor and balance on the other foot for a count of 15. Increase the count gradually to 30. Start this exercise with your eyes open, and later on close the eyes also.

Return to activity is advised when the distance traveled by the patient is no longer limited by pain then the patient can progress to 50 percent walking and 50 percent jogging.

Chronic ankle laxity treatment becomes more tedious as it requires proper rehabilitation exercises over a period to improve the range of motion, to enhance strength and bring stability. If ankle pain is appropriately managed and well in time the incidence of chronic pain can be reduced efficiently.
Ankle sprain and recovery time depend on the severity of the injury, adequate treatment, and patient’s discipline to follow the prescribed therapy.

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Lisa

lisa@injuryanprevention.com