It does not matter how active or inactive your lifestyle seems to be, many of us have experienced a sprained ankle at some point in our life. It may occur during a sporting event, such as football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, etc., or just while you are trying to walk across the yard or up and down a step or two. All of the sudden, one foot gets turned inward and we fall onto the outside of our ankle which makes walking and our other regular activities difficult and painful for the next several weeks. This can have a negative impact on our family life, participation in school, or even productivity at work.
A recent study by Cleland et. al. published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy discusses the mechanics behind the common lateral ankle sprain and how frequently these injuries occur, as well as a couple of common ways ankle sprains are typically managed.
1 They were looking at the differences in individuals’ pain and level of disability following lateral ankle sprains based on whether they went to a physical therapist for manual therapy and guided exercises twice a week for four weeks, as compared to individuals who were shown exercises once a week for four weeks to be performed at home.1 They report that the individuals who had sprained their ankle and gone through a program with a physical therapist who performed manual therapy and guided them through exercise routines performed in the clinic and at home experienced decreased pain and improved function to a greater degree at four weeks and at six months following their initial injury than did the group who went through the home exercise progression only.
1 So you could choose to sit at home and try to manage your ankle injuries on your own, and they will get better over time to a certain degree. However, when you unfortunately suffer from an ankle sprain, consider going through a guided program of manual therapy and specific exercise progressions with your local physical therapist in order to return to your prior lifestyle with decreased pain more quickly. A good rule of thumb for all musculoskeletal injuries, that may occur in our day to day lives, is to use the R.I.C.E. method, until you can get in to see a health care provider for a thorough evaluation. Rest and icing the area with combined compression and elevation will all serve to help keep the pain and swelling of the injured tissues down and manageable.
OnMark Physical Therapy
936 US HWY 72 E
Athens, AL 35611
1. Cleland, JA, Mintken, P, McDevitt, A, Bieniek, M, Carpenter, K, Kulp, K, and Whitman, JM. Manual physical therapy and exercise versus supervised home exercise in the management of patients with inversion ankle sprain: a multicenter randomized clinical trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013;43(7):443-55.