An ankle sprain is one of the most common lower extremity injuries, and ironically, the most untreated injury. Most people who sprain their ankle simply “rest it” or RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate), until it feels better and then go on with their daily lives. Some people will go see their doctor and usually leave with a prescription for NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and maybe even a walking boot to wear for 4-8 weeks.
The problem occurs with immobilization or disuse. With disuse usually comes hypomobility (lack of movement) of certain joints within the ankle and foot, specifically the talocrural (TC) joint, which is responsible for the majority of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion (raising your toes towards your shin bone and pointing your toes away from your shin bone respectively). With hypomobility at the TC joint, compensatory movement patterns begin to occur. These compensations can occur at the foot, knee, or even the hip. These compensations lead to chronic issues that sometimes take months or years before they surface again as another ankle sprain, plantar’s fasciitis, or hip/knee pain.
What should the first step be following an acute ankle sprain? The quickest way to a full recovery is to get the TC joint moving efficiently. This can be started immediately following injury. Here at John Goetze Physical Therapy Beaches, we have returned elite level athletes to full participation 7-10 days following acute ankle sprains when seen immediately following the injury. However, patients who wait weeks, months, or even years before seeking physical therapy help, often take longer to rehab to 100%. Even if your ankle swells up “to the size of a soft ball and is black and blue”, do not hesitate to see a quality manual physical therapist. There are multiple soft tissue techniques, joint mobilizations, and functional movement patterns that can assist in a much quicker recovery than traditional RICE methods, and get you back to doing what you love to do! Call John Goetze Physical Therapy Beaches today!