The ankle joint is held together by ligaments. A sprain results when ligaments are stretched beyond normal range. In a severe sprain, the fibers tear partly or completely. Sprains usually happen when the foot rolls in or out excessively. As soon as possible after the injury, treat with RICE: R for rest, I for ice, C for compression, E for elevation. Put the foot up (fluid runs downhill...) , wrap it in an Ace bandage, apply an ice pack (wrapped in cloth)for 20 minutes per hour . Depending on severity, Bill can recommend a period of immobilization of the ankle and exercises to facilitate healing. Crutches may make sense for a few days if the ankle is too painful to bear weight. When an ankle sprain is not treated properly, chronic long-term joint problems are possible. With any ankle sprain, the ankle should be immediately immobilized to allow the injured ligaments to heal and kept immobilized for between 1 and 6 weeks depending on the severity of the sprain. Even if the pain is gone, the ligaments may not have healed enough to resume activities that stress them. Immobilization with a brace gives the ligaments the rest they need to heal. A complete ligament tear can heal without surgery through immobilization, but this immobilization should not be overdone and must be followed promptly or combined with exercises that prevent muscle atrophy and shortening. Physical therapy will include range-of-motion and stretching exercises, strength training and balance training. Tendons are not just passive structures that stabilize joints-they also give information about joint position that is critical to prevent reinjury and regain balance. Exercises that challenge balance like Yoga and Tai Chi can help improve your ability to get this joint position sense (proprioception) back after an ankle sprain. That ability to feel the position of the ankle joint proprioceptively through sense organs in remaining, intact ligaments and fascia is key to getting solidly balanced after a serious ankle injury. Osteopathy is the most helpful approach for a recent, acute ankle sprain. Integrative physical therapy might include some of the following to treat ankle sprain:
- Tai Chi
- Guided Imagery
- Braces or taping
Holistic physical therapist, Bill Gallagher treats acute or chronic ankle sprain in New York City (NYC). He makes house calls on Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan. Bill's office is at 88th and Broadway.
Filed under: Foot & Ankle