A sprained ankle is a common injury that occurs when the ankle ligaments are torn or stretched too far. The majority of sprains heal on their own but PT to strengthen the injured muscles can help prevent future sprains.
What Is a Sprained Ankle?
A sprained ankle is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect one bone to another. When a ligament is injured, it can stretch or tear. The most common type of ankle sprain is when the ligament on the outside (lateral) side of the foot becomes stretched or torn.
There are three types of ankle sprains based on how much ligament damage occurred:
Grade I: The ligaments are stretched, not torn. There is minor swelling and tenderness.
Grade II: The ligaments are partially torn. There is swelling in the injured area and it hurts to move.
Grade III: The ligaments are completely torn or ruptured. There is significant swelling, pain and walking is difficult.
Signs and Symptoms
There are many common symptoms of a sprained ankle. Though, if you have sprained your ankle, you will likely know immediately after it happens. Some of the symptoms include:
- Pain in the ankle
- Inability to put weight on the foot
- Inability to move or rotate the ankle
- Swelling and bruising
Causes of Ankle Sprains
A sprained ankle can be caused by many activities such as:
Falling awkwardly: one of the common causes of sprained ankles is when someone falls awkwardly. Whatever causes a fall, landing badly on an ankle or twisting it awkwardly while falling can lead to a sprain of the ligaments.
Sports: sports About 45% of all sports injuries in the United States are ankle sprains. Basketball players are most often affected by this type of sprain, and anyone who frequently uses cutting motions while performing an athletic activity is at an increased risk of suffering an ankle sprain.
Walking on uneven surfaces: uneven surfaces are prime ground for ankles to twist and spin. Talking walks, running, or exercises on uneven ground can lead to missteps that cause ankle sprains.
How to Prevent an Ankle Sprain
If you’ve sprained your ankle once, be careful not to reinjure it. If the ligaments didn’t heal properly or if your ankle is still weak, there’s a greater chance of an injury recurrence. And if you return to sports or other activities too soon after injury, it might give you persistent pain or cause frequent reinjury.
You can avoid a sprained ankle, firstly, by avoiding uneven or rough ground when exercising. It is also important to warm up your muscles, including your ankles, before exercising.
Improving your balance, core strength, ankle strength and flexibility will help will ankle sprain prevention.
How can Physical Therapy help with Ankle Sprains?
Physical therapists can help people with ankle sprains recover more quickly than they would without treatment.
The severity of injury when it comes to a sprained ankle determines what extent of physical therapy you may need. Physical therapy helps in many ways such as engaging the sprained area, relieving pain, and restoring mobility.
Your physical therapist can also recommend a home-exercise program to help prevent ankle sprains. It may include strength, flexibility, and balance exercises.
For more information about sprained ankles and how physical therapy can assist with this, contact us and we will help you out!