How To Recover From An Ankle or Knee Sprain

Have you recently suffered from an ankle or knee sprain? One day you are active and able to walk/run with ease and the next, you’re experiencing incredible pain emanating from your knee or ankle. After a thorough examination, you are diagnosed with an ankle or knee sprain. The question now is, how do you recover?


What is a Sprain?


Every joint in the body has bands of tissue that hold the joint together. These bands are called ligaments. When the ligaments turn outside of their normal range of motion, causing them to overstretch or tear, the injury is called a sprain. In ankles, the ligaments on the outside of the joint are the most likely to be injured. In knees, any of the ligaments can be injured because the knee rotates in several different ways.


The Three Phases of Recovery

Every ankle sprain or knee sprain has three phases of recovery. While healing takes between two weeks and two months, there is no magic formula for making the process go faster. However, systematically moving through these phases allows the joint to heal properly and reduces the likelihood of re-injuring the joint.


Phase 1: RICE


The first phase of joint recovery can be described with the acronym RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This phase can last from a few days, up to a week in order to give the ankle or knee a chance to begin healing.


  • Rest your knee or ankle by not walking or running on it, using crutches if necessary.
  • Ice the knee or ankle for 20 minutes at a time to keep inflammation at a minimum. However, you should never put ice directly on the skin. Instead, wrap an ice pack in a thin cloth or pillowcase to prevent frostbite.
  • Compression can be achieved by using a brace or wrap on the injury. Not only does compression add support to a weakened joint, it reduces swelling as well.
  • Elevating the knee or ankle above the waist or the heart also reduces swelling in the joint. Prop it up on pillows, the arm of the couch, or another supportive, soft surface.


Phase 2: Increase Flexibility & Range of Motion


Once the swelling has begun to subside, you are ready to enter the next phase of recovery – increasing flexibility and range of motion in the joint. At this point, enlisting the help of a physical therapist can help restore strength and balance to your knee or ankle while decreasing the likelihood of re-injuring it in the process. A physical therapist can perform cross friction massage that ensures the ligaments will not improperly adhere to the bone. PT at this stage also involves several hands-on therapies that continue to control swelling and manage pain without the use of large doses of pain medications.


Phase 3: Restore Strength & Balance


Once the joint has begun to heal, a physical therapist can then prescribe strengthening exercises that will help restore your range of motion, strength, balance, and proprioception (the ability to sense where the joint is in space). Many people assume that once they are no longer in pain, they can go back to normal activities. In reality, physical therapy is the only way a person can achieve a full recovery from a knee or ankle sprain. A carefully constructed, supervised exercise program not only on helps to strengthen the ligaments holding the joint together, it also strengthens the muscles around the joint, preventing future injuries.


When done correctly, with physical therapy, recovering from a knee or ankle sprain can leave you as good as new in a few short weeks.


Always consult your physical therapist or physician before starting exercises you are unsure of doing.


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Tim Nash
Tim Nash
15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
Arlene Gross
Arlene Gross
15:58 22 Jun 18
Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
Jose Ico
Jose Ico
12:43 27 Apr 18
My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
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Paul Grant
21:51 03 Apr 18
I have read lots of reviews that say "the entire staff of ..." is great, and you know that it is BS.. .. Butt at OBTS that statement is true. The person answering the phone, appointment setting they work around my schedule. It is truly a team concept. Everyone that has work with/on me keeps me focus on getting healthy to play golf.... Even those employees that haven't work with/on me are upbeat, positive and encouraging both their patients and me..... follow up phone calls, positive, hand written notes of encouragement, reminding me to do my homework so I can play golf this year. Great Employees, Great Business!.
Diane Burns
Diane Burns
02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
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