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Healing and Strengthening Your Ankle After a Sprain

PTD0614_RunnerAnkle sprain, one of the most common injuries, affects about 25,000 people every day. An ankle sprain is an injury to one of the ligaments in your ankle. A sudden twisting motion can cause these tough bands of tissue to stretch too far or snap entirely. Wearing high heels, playing sports that require swift changes in direction or even just walking on an uneven surface are all risk factors for sprained ankles.
Symptoms include difficulty moving the ankle, instability of the joint, pain (which can be mild to severe), swelling and bruising. You may hear a popping sound while the injury occurs. While ankle sprains sometimes heal on their own, most experts suggest treatment to avoid a recurrence. Through a physical examination, a clinician can usually diagnose the extent of the injury.
Mild sprains may heal on their own with some rest and self-care. Other things you can do to speed up healing include the following:

  • Avoid putting weight on the ankle whenever possible.


  • Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.


  • Elevate the ankle on a pillow when you sit or lie down.


  • Use an ankle brace for added support.


  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers (if your physician approves) to ease discomfort and swelling.

Treatment for a more serious sprain usually consists of the same self-care routine, along with a prescription for physical therapy. Exercise helps healing and can control the formation of scar tissue, the body’s natural reaction to injury. Scar tissue protects the injured area, but it can also decrease strength and flexibility in the joint if the ankle is simply left to heal on its own. A rehabilitation plan featuring exercises that we design specifically for you can increase strength and flexibility in the ankle and prevent reinjury.
In cases of severe sprain, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged ligament. After surgery, you may need to wear a cast for a few weeks. After that, a rehabilitation program of physical therapy designed with your physician’s input will get you back on your feet again, with an ankle that is strong, flexible and free from pain.
Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Wyckoff, NJ provides orthopedic and sports physical therapy services for the greater Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and Bergen County region. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before engaging in a physical therapy or rehabilitative program.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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