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What to do for an ankle sprain?

An ankle twist might seem like a trivial blip on the journey of life—until you’ve experienced one. The sharp, immediate pain that shoots through your foot when you take a misstep is more than just a minor inconvenience; it’s one of the most common injuries treated in physiotherapy clinics, and it’s not taken lightly among professionals.

A Twisted Tale: Understanding Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain most occurs when you turn your ankle inwards. This inward twisting action puts stress on the ligaments on the outside of your ankle, particularly stretching or, in more severe cases, tearing them. The usual suspect? The anterior talofibular ligament. Its role is so pivotal in the stability of our ankles that its absence or injury can significantly impact our mobility.

The Severity Spectrum: Sprains, Strains, and Fractures

While many can hobble away and resume activities of daily living without much fuss, others aren’t so lucky. Sometimes what seems a benign sprain can in fact be a more severe condition, like an avulsion fracture. The fibula, the bone on the outside of your shin, can sustain a break at its end—referred to by medical professionals as the lateral malleolus. In this case it is the bone that is damaged and the management approach will be quite different to your more typical mild sprain.

Walking It Off: Treatment and Rehabilitation Plans

Remarkably enough, even in the ordeal of a fracture, the treatment can be conservative. No dramatic medical interventions or surgery are required, just practicality and patience. This may involve a visit to a physiotherapist and a commitment to a tailored rehabilitation plan. A physiotherapist should be involved if you feel you are not progressing and able to upgrade your activities over the initial 2-3 weeks. This plan might include wearing a moon boot to immobilize the ankle, taping for extra support, managing the inevitable swelling, and prescribing a set of exercises designed to coax the ankle back to its pre-injury state.

As time ticks on, in the early weeks following injury, your ankle, which may have been confined in a moon boot initially, could show signs of stiffness. This is the stage where a physiotherapist’s expertise shines. They engage in an intricate dance of mobility exercises, strength training, and proprioception and balance training, which assists in improving the body’s ability to perceive its own position in space.

Long-Term Care: Beyond The Initial Recovery

Aftercare is key. Ankle sprains aren’t a ‘fix-it-and-forget-it’ sort. If you suspect you have an ankle sprain, don’t hesitate to reach out to a physiotherapist for guidance. They can provide advice on additional tests like x-rays and ultrasounds, as well as create a personalised treatment plan to help you on the road to recovery.

Remember, ankle sprains are common injuries, but with the right care and rehabilitation, you can bounce back stronger than ever. Take the time to prioritise your ankle health and seek professional help to ensure a successful recovery. Give your local physiotherapy clinic a call to get started on your journey to healing your ankle sprain today.

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