Ankle pain is a common pain experienced by most individuals, and is most often prevalent with an ankle sprain or ankle injury to structures within the ankle joint itself. These injuries can range from muscles strains or sprains, to over stretched ligaments, to fractured bones of the feet and other injuries to soft tissues within the ankle joint.
Ankle sprains happens when the feet is most flat extended coupled with a rotation motion that over stretches the ligament holding the ankle together, causing minor tears on the ligaments … plus lots of pain. The level of pain one may experience depends on the severity of the injury – the more tear, the more gapping and stretching of the ligaments, the more bone bruising – the more pain. The pain experienced depends on the individual's pain tolerance threshold. The types of pain one may experience includes throbbing, pulling, stabbing, burning, jolting types of pain, to name a few.
When present with patients with ankle sprain or ankle pain, physiotherapists will need to first assess the patient, determine the core and causes of pain, manage the basic symptoms and treat the core problems. Basic management from a fresh ankle sprain is cold therapy to decrease swelling and inflammation, followed by ultrasound therapy to accelerate soft tissue linguistic healing.
If and when necessary, there may be a referral to an occupational therapist to fabricate a resting ankle-foot-orthoses (AFO) to allow the injured ankle to rest in the best resting position.
It's very easy to be side lined and to be distracted by just pain management, but ankle sprain is not just about pain management. Once the acute stage of pain is over, physiotherapy management and intervention will need to include balance training, walking re-training if walk pattern has been affected, strength training of the ankle, proprioceptive training and even deep tissue massage to stretch our over tight muscles .
A key item to note is proprioceptive training – you see, when one gets a sprained ankle, our proprioceptive centers, which is the centers in our ankles that notes the foot and ankle position. The function of our ankle proprioceptive centers is to correct and re-correct ourselves when or if we slip, and the proprioceptive center will then kick in to help us correct our position. When it works, it will prevent us from re-injuring the ankle (which explains why people with ankle sprails tend to have recurring ankle sprains … often increasing increments with each new recurrence).