Ankle Sprain Treatment
What is a Lateral Ligament Tear?
Tear, damage or disruption of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
What Causes a Lateral Ligament Tear?
Usually due to the ankle being forced violently inward. It is usually due to sport but can be due to tripping or falling particularly when on uneven surfaces.
What are the symptoms of a Lateral Ligament Tear?
Pain on the outside of the ankle when weight bearing which is worse on turning / sideways movements. Swelling and bruising may develop over 24 to 48 hours which may be severe. There may also be pain on the inside of the ankle. If left untreated instability can develop due to damaged nerves causing poor co-ordination of the muscles that control ankle.
What will treatment consist of for a Lateral Ligament Tear?
Massage – Encompassing a variety of techniques with sufficient pressure through the superficial tissue to reach the deep lying structures. It is used to increase blood flow, decrease swelling, reduce muscle spasm and promote normal tissue repair.
Deep friction – An aggressive massage technique applied across the tissue as deeply as possible to break down scar tissue, restore normal movement and prepare the structure for mobilisation or manipulation. This technique is initially painful but then causes a numbing effect.
Mobilisation – A manual technique where the joint and soft tissues are gently moved by the therapist to restore normal range, lubricate tissues and relieve pain.
Ultrasonic Therapy – Transmits sound waves through the tissues stimulating the body’s chemical reactions and therefore healing process, just as shaking a test tube in the laboratory speeds up a chemical reaction. It reduces tissue spasm, accelerates healing and results in pain relief.
Interferential Therapy – Introduces a small electrical current into the tissues and can be used at varying frequencies for differing treatment effects. E.g. pain relief, muscle or nerve stimulation, promoting blood flow and reducing inflammation.
What other treatments could be used for a Lateral Ligament Tear?
Acupuncture – An oriental technique of introducing needles into the skin to increase or decrease energy flow to promote pain relief and healing.
Taping/Strapping – May be used if thought necessary to restrict abnormal movement and prevent further damage.
What can you do yourself to help a Lateral Ligament Tear?
Active Rest – Keep active but avoid any activity that may put a twisting or sideways strain on the ankle.
Apply an ice pack – For a maximum of 20 minutes. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp cloth works well because it moulds to the shape of the ankle. Ensure that you do not apply ice directly to the skin as this can cause an ice burn.
Contrast bathing – From 5-days post injury put the foot into a bucket of water as hot as you can withstand for 5 minutes followed by one with water as cold as you can withstand for 5 minutes’ repeat for approximately 20 – 30 minutes.
Exercise programme – This is the most important part of the rehabilitation, your therapist will instruct you as to which exercises to begin with, when to add the others, as well as how to progress the exercises.
Medication – Ask your GP or Pharmacist for advice on the best medication for your condition.
Podiatry – An analysis of the foot mechanics and structure during walking or running and correction as appropriate.
What if physiotherapy does not help or resolve a Lateral Ligament Tear?
It is very rare that physiotherapy does not resolve this condition, in these cases we will refer you on for further investigation.
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