A sprained ankle is one of the most commonly treated injuries in physiotherapy since it usually occurs during our daily activities. The sprain occurs most often by practicing a sport, but sometimes, it takes only one misstep to occur. The biggest challenge when healing is to regain stability and a proper balance to prevent recurrence. To do so, a physiotherapy consultation is your best option. This article will give you some tips to better manage a sprained ankle and will convince you that the physiotherapist has an important role to play in your healing.
For a better understanding of the sprain
First of all, what is a sprain? The sprain is the stretching of one or more ligaments. Ligaments are small cords that provide joint stability. At the ankle, we find them on the inside and outside of the foot, and between the bones of the foot. The sprain most often occurs on the external side of the ankle, because the ligaments are weaker there.
The sprain is classified according to 3 grades:
Grade 1: Stretch
Grade 2: Stretch + micro-tears
Grade 3: Partial to Full Tear
The signs and symptoms of a sprain are pain, inflammation, heat, a change in skin color (red or blue) or instability. If the pain is very important and does not get better, it is important to consult a doctor to make sure there is no fracture.
The first step in treating a sprain is to quickly apply ice and raise the ankle to reduce swelling. You can also apply bandage the first days after the injury (48 hours maximum) to give a rest to the ligament. However, it is important to start moving again quickly, as this will help to reduce edema and stimulate healing.
Why should you consult a physiotherapist?
Do not hesitate to consult a physiotherapist the first week after the sprained ankle. It will help you reduce pain and inflammation and mobilize your ankle. Different techniques will be used including contrast baths, ultrasound or passive mobilizations. Then, reinforcement exercises will be undertaken. The ligament stretching occurring in a sprain increases the chances of a new sprain.
Repetitive sprains can then contribute to chronic instability of the ankle. The physiotherapist will teach you various proprioception and stability exercises that will help you avoid a new injury. Depending on your work and level of activity, an assessment in sports medicine or a follow-up by an occupational therapist could be indicated.
Thus, it is strongly advised to consult a physiotherapist following a sprained ankle. He or she will help you recover to the best of your abilities, and most importantly, will decrease the chances of hurting yourself again.