The Best Treatment for Ankle Sprains?

For A Sprained Ankle, Consider Seeing Us First-Here’s Why

If you play sports, there’s a strong chance you will sprain your ankle at some point. Ankle sprains account for up to 45% of all sports injuries, and approximately 25,000 people sprain their ankle every day in the U.S. In addition, about 10% of visits to the emergency department (ED) are for ankle sprains, which leads to direct medical costs of $2 billion. Most sprains (41%) occur in basketball, followed by football and soccer, which is mainly because each of these sports involve lots of jumping and cutting movements, which significantly increase the risk for sprains.

Ankle sprains involve the ligaments of the ankle joint, which are flexible bands of tissue that connect one bone to another. Ligaments are elastic and can be stretched to a certain length and then return to their original position, but they have a limit. When any of the ligaments in the ankle is stretched beyond its maximum range of motion, it becomes damaged, which is called a sprain. Most ankle sprains involve pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and some degree of instability, depending on the severity of the sprain.

What You Do Right After a Sprain Can Impact Your Future

If you do sprain your ankle, the prognosis is usually quite good, and most people can get back to sports or training within about 4–6 weeks; however, what you do immediately after the sprain will likely influence your eventual outcome. Some individuals will go to an urgent care center or the emergency room/department (ED), especially if the injury seems serious. While this might seem like a logical decision, it can have negative repercussions that many patients don’t expect. When a patient goes to an urgent care center or the ED for an ankle injury, an X-ray may be ordered to determine the extent of the injury and if any bones have been fractured. But X-rays aren’t necessary for many ankle injuries and undergoing an X-ray can lead to longer wait times, higher healthcare costs, and unnecessary radiation to patients.

Consider Seeing a Physical Therapist Right After an Ankle Sprain

An alternative approach is to instead visit a physical therapist after the ankle injury. Physical therapists are cautious about ordering tests like X-rays and will only do so if they believe it to be necessary. To determine if an X-ray should be ordered, here at Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy, we utilize the Ottawa Ankle Rules, which are a set of guidelines developed in 1992 to reduce the use of imaging tests like X-rays for ankle and foot injuries. A recent study found that if the Ottawa Ankle Rules were used universally, it would eliminate one-third of all X-rays performed for ankle and foot injuries.

Once we’ve taken a look at the ankle sprain, our physical therapists will get you started the appropriate treatment program for your ankle injury. Although each program differs depending on the type and severity of the injury, most will include the following components:

  • Mobility & pain relieving techniques to restore ankle movement
  • Strengthening exercises to help patients regain strength and prevent long-term ankle disability
  • Balance training to improve stability and help patients to learn to deal with any potential hazards
  • Functional training, which consists of performing activities patients might have difficulty with like walking, running, or jumping

If you’ve recently injured your ankle, physical therapy may be the best option for you.

Contact Bacci & Glinn Physical at 559-733-2478 (Visalia) or 559-582-1027 (Hanford) for more information or to schedule an appointment today.

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