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Physical Therapy and Ankle Sprains

The ankle is very fragile part of the part composed of ligaments and tendons designed to hold numerous bones in place to carry the full weight of your body. Because of its fragility, ankle sprains can happen to anyone at any time. The most common type of sprain is called an inversion sprain. An inversion sprain involves rolling the ankle inwardly stressing the ligaments on the outer portion of the ankle varying in different degrees of severity. An eversion involved rolling the ankle outward stressing the ligaments on the inner side of the ankle. Most people usually experience an inversion sprain with normal activities because of the increased flexibility of the ankle moving inward.

Another type of ankle sprain is called a syndesmosis sprain, or a high ankle sprain. The strain or tear is usually on the ligaments between the tibia and fibula bone where they connect and rest on top the talar bone. This sprain is more uncommon than the typical ankle sprain caused by activity with high impact on the ankle. Wearing a boot is required to immobilize the ankle for up to 12 weeks before returning to sports and sometimes surgery is necessary if a fracture is involved.

Sprains vary in degrees of severity grade and diagnosed as Type I, II or III. Type I ankle sprain a mild strain on the ligaments causing mild swelling and pain. Type II involves more strain and swelling significantly limiting walking and weight-bearing activities. Type III strain involves a full tear of the ligament sometimes requiring surgery to repair and prolonged rehabilitation.

All types of ankle sprain benefit from physical therapy for full recovery. If a patient does not properly rehab an ankle, they can have recurrent ankle sprains which consist of frequent “rolling” of the ankle and usually only with minimal force. Ankle rehabilitation, depending on the type, can take as quick as 6 weeks to return to full recovery to 12 weeks before returning to full impact. If surgery is involved, 12 weeks is the minimum amount of time it takes to rehab the ankle fully before beginning higher activity, thus sometimes requiring a longer road to recovery.

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