Sprains can happen anytime — while participating in sports, running, or simply walking. Many of us have experienced a twisted ankle or sprain at one time or another, but a high ankle sprain is less common and a much more severe injury.
What is a high ankle sprain?
A high ankle sprain, also known as a syndesmotic ankle sprain, occurs when there is damage to the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones above the ankle joint. This type of sprain is less common than a regular ankle sprain and often occurs from a twisting or rotational trauma in the ankle, such as during a tackle in football or a misstep while running.
The RICE Method: Early Stages for a Smooth Recovery
Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of the sprain, but the best way to begin treating a high ankle sprain is to follow the RICE method. This involves:
- Rest: Resting helps to reduce any strain or stress on the affected area.
- Ice: Reduces swelling and discomfort. Ice should be applied to the injury for up to 20 minutes at a time.
- Compression: Wearing a compression bandage or brace helps support the ankle and keeps swelling down while preventing further injury.
- Elevation: Elevating the affected leg eases the discomfort of the injury and makes it easier for the body to regulate fluids in the area.
Tips for Restoring Your Full Range of Motion With PT
Physical therapy is an essential part of recovery for high ankle sprains. A physical therapist will work with you to develop a personalized rehabilitation program that includes exercises to help strengthen the ankle and surrounding muscles, increase flexibility, and improve balance and stability.
As you’re healing, you don’t want to return to physical activity immediately. Your body needs time to adapt and heal for a smooth recovery and to avoid unnecessary strain on the joint. By working with a licensed physical therapist, you can restore your full range of motion in a healthy and gradual way while allowing the pain and swelling to subside.
Here are some tips for healing from a high ankle sprain:
- Use manual therapy techniques focusing on joint mobilization to improve mobility and reduce the pain associated with a high ankle sprain.
- Add strengthening exercises to your routine to help build strength in the ankle and surrounding muscles.
- Incorporate range of motion exercises to improve flexibility and mobility around the affected area, restoring optimal function in the ankle.
- Work on improving your balance and stability with activities that help improve your proprioception and reduce your risk of re-injury.
At-Home Care for Healing High Ankle Sprains
A high ankle sprain can be challenging to recover from, but with the right care and attention, you can heal faster and prevent re-injury. When working with a physical therapist, patients receive specialized guidance tailored to their individual condition, progress, and goals.
At Luna, our therapists will come to you and create a comprehensive treatment plan you'll feel motivated to follow. We offer tools for pain relief and enhanced recovery, so you can focus on getting back to the activities you love without being slowed down by your ankle injury.
If you want to get back to living your best life, get connected with a physical therapist today!