It was a crisp autumn day when Sue decided to go for a hike. All of a sudden she caught her foot on the unstable ground and rolled her ankle. Her ankle was sore, swollen, tender to the touch and she felt unstable while walking on it. Eventually, after a couple weeks of rest, ice, elevation and gentle movement she was again able to resume most of her usual activities of daily living. She thought she would rest over the winter and be ready to get back to hiking in the spring.
Fast forward to spring. The snow is melting, the birds are chirping and Sue is getting ready to once again get back to hiking and soccer. This time though, she observes some odd changes. Sue notices that her ankle still feels weak and she is worried about slipping when she goes out for her long hikes. She decides not to play soccer in the spring out the fear that running on the field with opponents may result in rolling her ankle again. She even feels unstable while standing on one foot and very stiff in her ankle when having to kneel or squat.
Sue is a classic example of someone who has recovered well from the acute symptoms of an ankle sprain but has not done the proper rehabilitation to recover fully from the injury. Ongoing symptoms of stiffness, weakness and poor balance are common. If someone has been limping or using crutches for a period of time after the initial injury, general weakness in that leg is also quite common. Due to the residual ankle weakness and reduced balance, there may be an increased risk of rolling the ankle again with return to sports and activities.
A physiotherapist can help get you on track for a full recovery. During an initial assessment, a physiotherapist will ask you questions about your specific injury and assess your mobility, strength and balance. Based on the findings of the assessment and your specific goals, your physiotherapist can come up with a personalized home exercise program for you. Manual therapy, which involves hands on techniques, is also used to treat stiffness and reduced range of motion. Following a physiotherapy treatment program most people are able to safely and confidently return to their regular sports and activities.
Krista Smith is a Registered Physiotherapist and associate at Sun City Physiotherapy’s downtown, St Paul Street location.