A Podiatrist's View of The Importance of Post Ankle Sprain Rehabillitation
Today we are going to look specifically at ankle inversion sprains, where the ankle is rolled outwards and the ligaments, tendons or even sometimes bones on the outside of the foot become damaged. During an ankle sprain there are many structures that are damaged which is often demonstrated by pain, swelling and bruising. Often the first few hours, days or even weeks are painful to the point where weight bearing is difficult. During this time it is important to get a proper assessment to check the extent of the damage and to assess how long rest or immobilization is required. Immobilization can vary from patient to patient, anywhere from strapping to CAM boots to total contact casting and crutches.
After the first few weeks the pain almost always settles to a dull ache or pain that is only aggravated during intense activity. When the immobilization period is completed is when it's time to start the rehabilitation process. This process varies significantly depending on the extent of damage and the level of activity that the patient has to get back to. Generally speaking this looks at increasing the tissue tolerance to strain gradually and looking at reducing risk factors for future ankle sprains which are so common after the initial injury.
Increasing the tissue tolerance to load is done gradually and can incorporate activities like static stretching and both global and specific strengthening plans. These should be incorporated into day to day activities and may need to be performed under supervision during the initial parts of the rehabilitation plan.
Reducing risk factors for future ankle sprains should be considered a top priority from the outset, after an ankle sprain the chance of chronic ankle instability increases. Risk factors for ankle sprains can include foot posture, strength, proprioception or ankle balance and your own confidence in the ankle. Gradually returning to sport and exercise is an important way to ensure that the joint is protected and the problem does not become more chronic than it needs to be.
At TFC Podiatry in Geelong, Point Cook and Yarraville we understand the long and short term implications of being off of your feet and the implications of ankle sprains. Please ensure you have a thorough assessment if you have had an ankle sprain.