Rehabilitation is usually an important part of recovering from an ankle injury. Rehabilitation is designed to help decrease pain and swelling and to prevent the development of ongoing, or chronic, ankle problems. Along with exercise, ultrasound and electrical stimulation can be used to help control pain and swelling.
A physical therapist can help you regain function in your ankle as quickly as possible through a combination of manual techniques such as exercise, massage and mobilization. Physical therapists emphasize the need to get the affected area moving as quickly as is safe after an injury. The longer a joint remains immobile, the greater the possibility that a permanent decrease in mobility may result.
At first, rehabilitation exercises may involve active range of motion or controlled movements of the ankle joint without resistance. Water exercises are sometimes used if other exercises, such as toe-raising, are too painful.
Some motion exercises are designed to improve your awareness of the position, location, orientation and movement of your ankle. This ability is referred to as proprioception. Proprioception training is very important because poor proprioception is a major cause of repeated sprains and unstable ankle joints.
Once you’re free of pain, other exercises may be added, such as agility and endurance-building activities. The goal here is to increase your strength and range of motion as your ligaments recover. The length of time you can expect to spend recovering depends upon the extent of the injury and the amount of surgery, if any, that was performed. Rehabilitation may take from weeks to months.