Spraining your ankle is painful and can limit your mobility. How you treat the ankle during the healing process will determine whether you have residual impairment even after the sprain itself has healed. Visiting a physical therapist is a great way to avoid developing ankle scar tissue and to improve your range of motion.
What Happens During an Ankle Sprain?
Ankle sprains are incredibly common, with approximately 25,000 sprains happening every day. Very mild ankle sprains tend to go away on their own, but a more severe sprain — particularly if you heard a “pop” when it happened — can have longer lasting effects. If pain persists for more than a day, it is time to seek professional attention from an orthopedic specialist.
Your ankle is wrapped by ligaments that give it strength and support. When you sprain your ankle, one or more of these ligaments becomes stretched or even torn. Ensuring that the ligament heals properly will prevent you from developing residual pain or functional limitations.
How to Prevent Ankle Scar Tissue
Whenever you wound yourself, your immune system kicks into action. It sends cells to the site of the wound to begin repairing your tissues. These cells trigger an inflammatory process, which is why sprained ankles often swell up and become warm to the touch. One of the other functions of the immune system is to create scar tissue. Scar tissue is actually helpful in the short term, as it is strong and can hold damaged tissue together. When you stretch or tear a ligament in your ankle, scar tissue can ensure that the ligament stays together.
Unfortunately, too much scar tissue can cause you to have restricted movement in your ankle. Thus, it is essential to prevent yourself from developing too much scar tissue. The best way to do this is to engage in physical therapy. For example, massage and other soft tissue work stimulate blood flow to the ankle, promoting healing and preventing scar tissue formation. Your physical therapist may also perform joint mobilizations, in which he or she moves your bones to increase range of motion. Finally, you will receive stretches and other exercises to build strength and maintain your mobility.
Ankle sprains may be common, but that doesn’t mean that you should not take them seriously. Visiting one of our orthopedic specialists can help you make sure that you are on a path of healing. Contact us today to learn how we can help you recover from a sprained ankle or other orthopedic injury.Return to Blog