Ankle sprains are a common injury for those engaging in athletic or even recreational activity. Each year more than 1 million people visit a doctor for an ankle sprain (ref). And this does not account for those who do not seek care.
In many cases the person can “walk” off the injury in days, while others may spend days or weeks on crutches or in a walking boot. The degree of injury has the greatest influence on recovery time. In the early phase, managing the swelling with ice, elevation, NSAIDS and maybe compression is great. Left unaddressed, increased swelling can impede the ability to walk without a limp. Even those with what is considered a mild sprain may have difficulty resuming certain activities.
How can one recover faster?
By not just “walking” it off. By seeking the care of a health professional who can help guide the process more efficiently.
What specifically can be done?
Data indicates a combination of hands-on mobilization plus exercise (see Here and Here) can improve walking even in an acute stage. Beyond the ability to improve walking in the early phase, manual therapy and exercise are a part of the package to prevent future issues.
A major issue with ankle sprains is although it may not hurt does not mean issues do not remain that can and should be addressed. Lack of ankle mobility as well as subtle balance deficits persist that can result in future issues. Most people ignore these issues but then another ankle sprain happens. Then another and another. With each successive ankle sprain more damage is being done that becomes more difficult to overcome.
Eventually repeated ankle sprains can lead to what is known as chronic ankle instability (CAI). This is a condition where the ankle becomes to ‘loose” and lacks that ability to adapt to varied surfaces quickly. If issues are not addressed, the individual risks surgery to correct excessive looseness of the ankle.
Again, the most common issue is people do not take the time to properly recovery the 1st time. Do not make the mistake of rushing back or skipping your ankle exercises just because it may not hurt (much). That may be today, but by not regaining full motion, balance and agility, you risk future issues.
If you are looking for solutions to your ankle pain, check out this special tips report