Frequently Asked Questions

It's beeen a month since I sprained my ankle and I still can't raise up on my toes on that side. How much longer will it be before I have my full strength and motion back?

Sometimes ankle sprains don't recover fully without a little extra help. The joint seems to accomodate rather quickly to less strength and less motion caused by a sprain or other injury. A month goes by and it seems fine. But some people notice some lingering symptoms that just don't seem to go away. A recent study by physical therapists from Canada showed why you may be experiencing some trouble. They followed a group of patients with ankle sprain for one month after they were first treated in the local emergency department. At the end of 30 days, everything looked fine by external measures. But sensitive testing methods showed the injured leg was still weaker, more painful, and had less motion compared to the uninjured ankle. The testing ended after 30 days so the researchers weren't sure if further changes would be seen if given a little more time. The high rate of recurring (second) ankle sprains in the general population suggests a need for specific training and rehab to fully recover from even mild to moderate ankle results. You may want to see an orthopedic surgeon or a physical therapist for further evaluation and suggests for complete recovery. It may be a good idea to have a short course of exercise therapy to regain full motion, strength, and proprioception (joint sense of position). This can help reduce the risk of recurrent sprains as well as restore function.

Alice B. Aiken, PT, PhD, et al. Short-Term natural Recovery of ankle Sprains Following Discharge From Emergency Departments. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. September 2008. Vol. 38. No. 9. Pp. 566-571.

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