What is an ankle sprain?
Ankle sprains are injuries that occur when the ankle is rolls, twists and or turns and the body is not prepared or is not able to correct the movement. This can over stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue called ligaments that help stabilize and hold the ankle together.
Ligaments help stabilize joints, by preventing excessive movement. A ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. The most common type of ankle sprain cause damage to the lateral or outside of the ankle.
Treatments for ankle sprains depends on the severity of the injury. Self care measures and over the counter pain medications may be all you need, a medical evaluation might be necessary to reveal how badly you have injured your ankle and determine the proper course of treatment.
What helps speed up recovery?
The P.O.L.I.C.E. principle is one of the newer approaches to acute injury treatment in general. For many years R.I.C.E. principal to manage acute injuries was the go to, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. A couple of problems with the
R.I.C.E. treatments are that it really hasn’t been proven to work like we think, some experts suggest that ice being applied initially after an injury actually impedes the normal healing process. another problem is that many people take the “rest” phase too far. often after acute injury, a little bit of rest is necessary. But you may feel compelled to rest your injured muscle or joint for far longer than is actually necessary. Long periods of immobilization can lead to decreased muscle strength and flexibility. which could lead to delays in normal functional mobility and activity.
So what does P.O.L.I.C.E. stand for?
Protection: During the first few days after an injury, you should certainly rest the injured joint, ligament, or muscle. After a few days, gentle motion can be started while you still maintain a level of protection for the injured area.
Optimum Loading: While you are protecting your injured body part, gentle motion can, and should, be started. For example, after a ankle injury, you should be able to progress from a few days of rest to passive range of motion, active ranges of motion, and finally, This progressive loading of your injury can help promote optimal healing of the injury, and it can prevent delays in returning to normal due to joint and muscle tightness or muscle atrophy.
Ice: Applying ice may help to manage the swelling around your injured muscle or joint, and ice can help decrease some of the acute pain that you may be experiencing. The research suggests that no more than 20 minutes at a time is most beneficial.
Compression: While applying ice, compression can be added using an ACE bandage.
Elevation: Elevation is simple for some body parts. An injured ankle or knee can be placed on a stack of pillows while you are lying down. An injury to your elbow or wrist requires that you elevate your entire arm on something.
The P.O.L.I.C.E. principle deviates slightly from the R.I.C.E. method. Sure, ice is still used, but there no rest component. Rather, optimal loading and movement are used. This creates early motion, decreases stiffness, and may help you quickly get moving again.
Range of motion exercises
Range-of-motion exercises begin right after your injury. Try doing these exercises then putting ice on your ankle, up to 5 times a day. These are easy to do while you are at a desk or watching TV.
Try the following simple range-of-motion exercises:
- Trace the alphabet with your toe, which encourages ankle movement in all directions. Trace the alphabet 1 to 3 times.
- Sit in a chair with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly move your knee side to side while keeping your foot pressed flat. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes.
Towel curls. While sitting, place your foot on a towel on the floor and scrunch the towel toward you with your toes. Then, also using your toes, push the towel away from you. Make this exercise more challenging by placing a weighted object, such as a soup can, on the other end of the towel.
Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the timing of strengthening exercises for the ankle. Typically you can start them when you are able to stand without increased pain or swelling.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions of these exercises once or twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the severity of your injury.
- Start by sitting with your foot flat on the floor and pushing it outward against an immovable object such as the wall or heavy furniture. Hold for about 6 seconds, then relax. After you feel comfortable with this, try using rubber tubing looped around the outside of your feet for resistance. Push your foot out to the side against the tubing, then count to 10 as you slowly bring your foot back to the middle.
- While still sitting, put your feet together flat on the floor. Press your injured foot inward against your other foot. Hold for about 6 seconds, then relax.
- Next, place the heel of your other foot on top of the injured one. Push down with the top heel while trying to push up with your injured foot. Hold for about 6 seconds, then relax
Balance and control exercises
You can usually start balance and control exercises when you are able to stand without pain. But talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the exact timing. Also, don’t try these exercises if you could not have done them easily before your injury. If you think you would have felt unsteady doing these exercises when your ankle was healthy, you are at risk of falling when you try them with an injured ankle.
Practice your balance exercise at least once a day, repeating it about 6 times in each session.
- Stand on just your injured foot while holding your arms out to your sides with your eyes open. If you feel unsteady, stand in a doorway so you can put your hands on the door frame to help you. Balance for a long as you can, working up to 60 seconds. When you can do this for 60 seconds, try exercise number 2.
- Stand on your injured foot only and hold your arms across your chest with your eyes open. When you can do this for 60 seconds, try exercise number 3.
- Stand on your injured foot only, hold your arms out to the sides, and close your eyes. If you feel unsteady, stand in a doorway so you can put your hands on the door frame to help you. When you can do this for 60 seconds, try exercise number 4.
- Stand on your injured foot only, hold your arms across your chest, and close your eyes. Balance for a long as you can, working up to 60 seconds.
Stretching exercises should be continued on a daily basis and especially before and after physical activities to help prevent reinjury. Even after your ankle feels better, continue with strengthening exercises and balance and control exercises several times a week to keep your ankles strong.
Start exercises to stretch your Achilles tendon as soon as you can do so without pain. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg to the bone at the base of the heel. Try the towel stretch if you need to sit down, or try the calf stretch if you can stand.
- Towel stretch. Sit with your leg straight in front of you. Place a rolled towel under the ball of your foot, holding the towel at both ends. Gently pull the towel toward you while keeping your knee straight. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat 2 to 4 times. In moderate to severe ankle sprains, it may be too painful at first to pull your toes far enough to feel a stretch in your calf. Use caution, and let pain be your guide.
- Calf stretch. Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about eye level. Put the leg you want to stretch about a step behind your other leg. Keeping your back heel on the floor, bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times. Repeat the exercise with the back knee bent a little, still keeping your back heel on the floor. This will stretch a different part of the calf muscles.
After an ankle sprain having the ankle adjusted can decrease pain and may improve your recovery time and function. After spraining your ankle the joint might can be misaligned and a simple adjustment can help increase mobility and improve your pain free range of motion.