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Urgent Care Center In Chicago Explains Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation

The “Madness” of Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation


Dr. Jeffrey Baker, DPM, FACFAS

urgent care center in chicago ankle sprainsIt’s March Madness time.  A time for brackets, upsets, high flying hoops, and the inevitable ankle sprain. It is estimated that there are 30,000 ankle sprains per day in the United States. Ankle sprains of the most common sports medicine injury to the foot or ankle seen at our urgent care center in Chicago. Running and jumping sports have the highest risk for ankle sprains. 75-95% of ankle sprains are to the outside or lateral aspect of the ankle. The injury most often occurs when the foot is in a downward position in the foot “rolls underneath” the leg.


Besides treating the initial injury, the most significant concern of ankle sprains is the risk of re-injury or chronic symptoms secondary to inadequate initial treatment. Upwards of 20% of patients have residual symptoms after ankle sprains due to suboptimal initial management. Therefore an ankle sprain rehabilitation protocol is paramount for full recovery of an ankle sprain and prevention of ankle sprains in the future.  Therefore I am very aggressive with my treatment of ankle sprains.  I believe we should never use the phrase “it’s just an ankle sprain”.  These injuries require special attention and a thorough treatment protocol.

Ankle sprains are classified by the severity of the injury into Grade 1, 2, or 3.

  • Grade I
    • Stretch of the ligament without tearing
    • Mild swelling or tenderness
    • Ability to walk
  • Grade II
    • Partial tear of the ligament(s)
    • Moderate pain, swelling, tenderness
    • Difficulty walking
  • Grade III
    • Complete rupture of the ligament(s)
    • Severe pain, bruising, swelling, tenderness
    • Inability to walk

Treatment and rehabilitation is based on the grade of injury.

  • Grade I
    • Brace for 3 weeks
    • RICE [Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation]
    • Oral anti-inflammatory medication
    • Early active range of motion exercises
  • Grade II
    • Brace for 3 week
    • RICE [Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation]
    • Oral anti-inflammatory medication
    • Early active range of motion exercises
    • Physical therapy 3-4 weeks
  • Grade III
    • Soft Cast for 1 week for significant swelling
    • Walking boot for 3 weeks then brace for 3 weeks
    • RICE [Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation]
    • Physical therapy 4-6 weeks

A majority of medical research on ankle sprains reveal improved outcomes with early functional treatment methods.  The concept of early movement with a proper physical therapy rehabilitation protocol improves patient outcomes.  In these studies aggressive treatment allows symptoms to subside quicker, provides earlier return to work and physical activity, and creates less chance for re-injury.   Incomplete rehabilitation has been shown to be a common cause of persistent symptoms, therefore completing therapy in full provides optimum results.

Ankle sprains happen often and will continue to occur in our athletic population.  It is important not to treat an ankle sprain as a minor injury and not seek specialty treatment for the condition.  With early aggressive treatment your ankle sprain will cause you less issues immediately and less potential issues in the future.

If you are seeking treatment for an ankle sprain, contact the podiatrist of the urgent care center in Chicago today!

To learn more about ankle sprain rehabilitation, click here!


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