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Swollen Ankle Treatment

Swollen Ankle Treatment

What is a Swollen Ankle?

Repeated injuries can leave you with sore, swollen ankles.

That’s because with the formation of scar tissue comes swelling. As a result, your ankle will appear enlarged and may throb, burn, or tingle.

Soon, jumping, running, or simply stepping off the curb can mean pain.

Eventually ancillary muscles will start working that shouldn’t, causing you to develop incorrect patterns of movement in order to compensate for the swelling, which will soon affect other areas of your body, like your knees, hips and back.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes a Swollen Ankle?

Common causes or risk factors of a swollen ankle include:

  • Walking, running, or jogging on an uneven surface
  • A direct hit to the ankle joint
  • A fall that causes your ankle to twist or roll, or tripping over something
  • Landing awkwardly on your foot
  • Previous ankle sprain or tendonitis
  • Weakness or inflexibility in the ankles
  • Wearing unsupportive, improper, or worn-out footwear
  • Repetitive motions such as running or jumping that cause overuse injuries
  • Returning to sport too soon after injury or surgery
  • Incorrect technique or training in sports including lack of strength training, insufficient warm-ups, and stretching

Athletes in particular are at risk for suffering ankle injuries, especially sports that involve jumping, repeated hard landings, cutting side to side, and sudden bursts off your feet.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Swollen Ankle?

Signs and symptoms of a swollen ankle obviously include swelling, but can also include:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tenderness when touched
  • Decreased range of motion

Concerned about symptoms of a swollen ankle? Book a physiotherapy assessment at your local pt Health clinic today.

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How is a Swollen Ankle Treated?

Treatment depends on the type and severity of your injury. 

A mild ankle sprain or tendonitis can be treated at home or in a clinical setting using the following protocol:

  • Applying ice packs for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day, typically for the first 48 hours or until swelling goes down
  • Resting the injured foot
  • Avoiding activities that cause pain or put stress on the foot
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Advil or Aleve to reduce pain and swelling

If your swollen ankle symptoms do not improve with these at-home remedies, you may want to consult a pt Health physiotherapist for a custom treatment plan to address your unique concerns.

Physiotherapy for a Swollen Ankle

Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, regaining strength, increasing joint mobility and function, and preventing recurrence.

At pt Health, you’ll receive a comprehensive individual analysis that fully assesses the extent and cause of your injury, your former and desired performance level, and any risk factors that need management. 

Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy can include:

  • Activity modification and functional retraining
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises to rebuild the surrounding ankle muscles
  • Range of motion and flexibility exercises
  • Balance and stability exercises
  • Bracing
  • Personalized exercise plan that can be done at home to encourage continuous improvement and progress
  • Preventative strategies to help you manage injury risk factors
  • Patient education, actively involving you in your own recovery, including return to work or sport recommendations
  • Cross-disciplinary pain-relieving therapies such as: 

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Can a Swollen Ankle Go Away On Its Own?

While a swollen ankle may get better on its own if it is mild and is treated at home following the RICE protocol, many causes of swollen ankles go deeper and can become chronic if not treated properly, including allowing enough time to heal and strengthen the necessary muscles.

Overall, expect treatment for your swollen ankle to last eight to twelve weeks before you feel better.

Can You Prevent a Swollen Ankle?

Yes. The best way to prevent a swollen ankle is to incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises as part of an overall fitness plan. 

Speak to a physiotherapist about the best exercises for your activities.

Other steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of getting a swollen ankle include:

  • Warm up and stretch before exercise
  • Cool down and stretch after exercise
  • Practice proper technique in sport including targeted stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Start a new exercise or fitness program slowly, and gradually increase your training
  • Take regular breaks from activities that involve repetitive movements
  • Practice good posture
  • Wear orthotics and properly supportive shoes for your activity
  • Eat a non-inflammatory diet (avoid sugar, and processed and refined foods)
  • Drink plenty of water

Book a Physiotherapist Consult for a Swollen Ankle Today

Concerned about a swollen ankle? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today. 

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