female physical therapist examining patients ankle and foot

Ankle sprain

After an ankle sprain, physical therapy can help ensure you won’t experience continued problems.

Physical therapy for ankle sprains

Ankle sprains typically occur when the ankle is rolled or twisted in an awkward position, such as when you are misplaying sports or land on an uneven surface; what happens is the ligaments on the side of the ankle are overstretched resulting in an injury.

Physical therapy for a sprained ankle will help you get back to daily activities while helping you avoid long-term complications that can occur without proper rehabilitation.

Causes of ankle sprains

Ankle sprains occur when the foot twists, rolls, or turns beyond its usual range of motion, causing the ligaments to stretch beyond their usual limitations.

Along with pain, you may experience swelling, bruising, and an inability to bear weight on the affected joint. In more severe ankle sprains, you may hear a popping or snapping sound at the injury time.

physical therapist showing patient how to use resistance bands to stretch foot

Ankle sprain symptoms

Patients suffering from a sprained ankle may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the ankle
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Ankle instability and limping
  • Limited range of motion
male physical therapist helping patient use resistance band

How we treat ankle sprains

For the first 24 to 48 hours, protection, optimal loading, ice, compression, and elevation (POLICE) are recommended. Your physician or physical therapist may also recommend crutches.

After the first 48 hours, our goal is to get you back to daily activities and prevent complications like loss of function, decreased movement, chronic pain, swelling, and joint instability.

Your ankle sprain treatment may include:

  • Range-of-motion and/or muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Specialized body awareness and balance training to help muscles learn to respond to changes in your environment, such as uneven or unstable surfaces
  • Functional training, progressing to a return to daily activities
  • Specific training tailored to your occupation or sport
  • Modalities to treat the pain and swelling (such as ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, and ice)
  • Manual therapy to regain normal joint mobility
  • Joint protection strategies such as. taping or bandaging
  • Blood flow restriction

Ankle sprain resources

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What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.