Acting as a unit, the foot and ankle move fluidly to provide support and stability, as well as propulsion, for the body. Always in constant motion, the ankle is easily injured. Known to occur during normal and sporting activities, high-intensity sports, such as football, tennis, and rugby, result in the largest amount of ankle injuries.
Types of Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains are often assigned a classification, based on severity. A level one ankle sprain defines an ankle that has very little loss of movement, mild pain and swelling, and subtle tearing of one or more ligaments. A level two ankle sprain consists of moderate instability, moderate to severe ligament tearing, and moderate pain. The highest level, level three, involves severe swelling, one or more fully ruptured ligaments, severe pain, and substantial instability.
A level one ankle sprain can often be easily healed via physical therapy. Level two and three may require additional assessment by a physician. Regardless of the severity of your ankle sprain, a standard regime of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is recommended as the immediate first step in your recovery process.
Treatment for an Ankle Sprain
Known as a common injury, an ankle sprain must first be assessed for type and severity. Made up of various ligaments, the ankle's most commonly damaged ligament is the talo-fibula. Various physical therapy treatments can be done to heal this and other ligaments, including soft tissue massages, balancing exercises, and strengthening exercises. Once the type and extent of damage is evaluated, a physical therapist will design a comprehensive treatment program that rehabilitates and strengthens both the foot and ankle.
Caused by the stretching and tearing of ligaments, an ankle sprain restricts your ability to move. In addition to impeding your mobility, an ankle sprain is often painful. Seeking treatment from healthcare professionals, trained to understand the intricacies of ankle injuries, is one of the most important steps in your recovery process.