Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries treated in physiotherapy because they usually occur during our daily activities. Most of the time, the sprain occurs while playing sports, but sometimes it only takes a stumble to get injured. The biggest challenge during recovery is to regain stability and balance in order to avoid recurrence. A consultation with a physiotherapist is your best tool to do that. This article will give you some tips on how to better manage your ankle sprain and will convince you that the physiotherapist has an important role to play in your recovery.
For a better understanding of the sprain
First of all, what is a sprain? A sprain is the stretching of one or more ligaments. Ligaments are small cords that ensure the stability of joints. In the ankle, ligaments are found on the inside and on the outside of the foot, as well as between the bones of the foot. Sprains most often occur on the outer side of the ankle because this is where the ligaments are weaker.
A sprain is classified according to 3 grades:
Grade 1: Stretch
Grade 2: Stretch + micro-tears
Grade 3: Partial to full tear
Signs and symptoms of a sprain are pain, inflammation, warmth, a change in skin colour (red or blue) or some instability. If the pain is very severe and does not subside, you should see a doctor to make sure there is no fracture.
The first step in treating a sprain is to quickly apply ice and elevate the ankle to reduce swelling. A bandage can also be applied during the first few days following the injury (48 hours maximum) to give the ligament a rest. However, it is important to start moving again quickly, as this will help reduce swelling and stimulate healing.
Why should you consult a physiotherapist?
Do not hesitate to consult a physiotherapist in the first week following the ankle sprain. The physiotherapist will help you reduce the pain and inflammation and will mobilize your ankle. Different modalities will be used, including contrast baths, ultrasound or passive mobilizations. Strengthening exercises will then be undertaken. The stretching of the ligaments that occurs during the sprain increases the chances of a new sprain occurring.
Repetitive sprains can then contribute to chronic ankle instability. The physiotherapist will teach you various proprioception and stability exercises that will help you avoid another injury. Depending on your job and activity level, a sports medicine evaluation or a follow-up with an occupational therapist may be indicated.
For this reason, it is strongly recommended to consult a physiotherapist after an ankle sprain. He or she will help you recover to the best of your ability and, most importantly, reduce the chances of re-injury.
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