REPORTERS GUIDE TO ANKLE INJURIES
WHO: Eli Manning to undergo ankle surgery, hopes to be running in six weeks
WHAT: What is an ankle sprain?
Sprains are injuries to ligaments, the “bands” that hold joints together. Ankle sprains occur when the foot twists or turns beyond its normal range of movement, causing the ligaments to stretch beyond their normal length. If the force is too strong, the ligaments may tear.
An ankle sprain can range from mild to severe, depending on how badly the ligament is damaged or how many ligaments are injured. An ankle sprain is given a grade from 1 to 3 depending on the amount of ligament damage. A grade 1 sprain is mild, grade 2 is moderate, and grade 3 is severe.
Ankle sprains also are classified as acute, chronic, or recurrent:
- An acute sprain occurred recently—usually within the past few weeks—and is in an active stage of healing.
- A chronic sprain continues to cause symptoms beyond the expected time for normal healing.
- A recurrent sprain occurs easily and frequently, usually with only minimal force.
Without proper rehabilitation, serious problems—such as decreased movement, chronic pain, swelling, and joint instability—could arise, severely limiting your ability to do your usual activities.
Range-of-motion exercises. Swelling and pain can result in limited mobility of the ankle. A physical therapist teaches you how to do safe, effective exercises to restore full movement to your ankle.
Muscle-strengthening exercises. Ankle muscle weakness may cause long-term instability of the ankle and new ankle injuries. Your physical therapist can determine which strengthening exercises are right for you based on the severity of your injury and where you are in your recovery.
Body awareness and balance training. Specialized training exercises help your muscles “learn” to respond to changes in your environment, such as uneven or unstable surfaces. When you are able to put full weight on your foot without pain, your physical therapist may prescribe these exercises to help you return to your normal activities. For instance, your physical therapist might teach you how — with or without your eyes closed — to stand on one leg or on a wobble board to challenge the muscles around your ankle.
Functional training. When you can walk freely, without pain, your physical therapist may begin “progressing” your treatment program to include activities that you were doing before your injury, such as walking in your neighborhood, jogging, hopping, or modified running. This program will be based on the physical therapist’s examination of your ankle, on your goals, and on your activity level and general health.
Activity-specific training. Depending on the requirements of your job or the type of sports you play, you might need additional rehabilitation that is tailored for your job or sport and the demands that it places on your ankle. Your physical therapist can develop a program that takes all of these demands—as well as your specific injury—into account.
About SportsCare Institute, Inc.
SportsCare Institute, Inc. manages a network of physical and occupational therapy centers. The company’s goal is providing the highest quality of care available, with an emphasis on preventing injury, treating pain, and recovering function. Each of SportsCare’s more than 50 facilities offers the latest technology in rehabilitation, and is equipped with state-of-the art modalities, testing and exercise equipment, and more. Additional information is available online, at https://sportscare1.com.
SOURCE APTA AND SPORTSCARE INSTITUTE (a member of APTA)