If you’ve ever played any sports that involve regular cutting like basketball, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with ankle sprains. You may have experienced one yourself, or if not, perhaps you’ve seen a teammate or opponent experience a sprain at some point in your career. This is all due to the extremely high prevalence of sprains, as ankles have the big task of supporting the weight of our entire bodies.
Ankle sprains come about from the stretching or tearing of ligaments in the ankle and lead to pain, swelling and tenderness. They are the most common injury in sports—accounting for 45% of all sports injuries, especially seen in basketball—but they can occur any time the ankle moves beyond its normal range of motion.
On the bright side, the prognosis for most ankle sprains is quite good. By following a treatment program that includes rest from physical activity and protecting the ankle from further damage, most sprains will only need 4-6 weeks to heal; however, in some situations, an ankle sprain can become a chronic (long-term) problem.
In cases when the ankle sprain is not properly rehabilitated or the patient returns to sports too soon, the ankle does not heal right and can lead to a condition called chronic ankle instability (CAI). This results in regular pain and discomfort, and causes patients to feel like their ankles are unstable or “giving way” at any time. If not managed properly, CAI can cause these patients to repeatedly sprain their ankles and eventually becomes a long-term disability.
The good news is CAI can usually be avoided by following a rehabilitation program and not aggravating the ankle when it’s vulnerable. Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends the following treatments to prevent CAI:
- Use the RICE method, one of the easiest and most effective home remedies:
- Rest: rest your ankle and avoid putting any pressure on it
- Ice: immediately apply ice for 20 minutes, 3 times/day for swelling
- Compression: immobilize and support ankle with bandages/wraps
- Elevation: raise injured limb above heart for 2-3 hours/day
- Follow a physical therapy program, which typically consists of:
- Range of motion exercises: designed to restore ankle movement
- Strengthening exercises: these will help you regain your strength and prevent any long-term ankle disability
- Balance training: to help you get more stable and learn to deal with any potential hazards you may encounter
- Functional training: learn to complete activities you might have difficulty with like walking, running or jumping
If you’ve recently sprained your ankle and don’t want to experience long-lasting pain and repeated injuries in the future, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates can help. Call 704-471-0001 for more information on ankle sprains or to schedule an appointment either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.