A broken ankle can significantly hamper the capacity to do fundamental functional tasks like running and walking. This severe injury can result in a loss of strength, range of motion, and pain in the lower extremities. These issues can make it difficult to carry out your typical daily tasks.
Physical therapy (PT) may be beneficial after a fractured ankle has healed, to help you regain full functional mobility and return to your prior level of activity.
Symptoms and Causes of Ankle Fractures
The ankle joint connects and moves the talus bone of the foot with the tibia (shin bone) and fibula of the leg. Any one, or every one of these bones can be broken as a result of trauma, and substantial pain is usually felt right away.
Ankle fractures nearly always occur as a result of a stressful occurrence. Ankle fractures often occur during the impact of a car accident, when someone falls, or while someone is playing sports. Severe pain, bruising, swelling, and an inability to put weight on the broken ankle are all common symptoms of an ankle fracture.
If you think you’ve broken a bone in your ankle, the first thing you should do is seek medical help right once. If you don’t, you could lose a lot of functionality.
Your doctor may try to decrease the fracture while you’re in the hospital with an ankle fracture. The word “fracture reduction” refers to the process of repairing or setting a broken bone.
To allow for healing, the pieces of bone must be placed in close contact to one another. Fracture reduction is necessary to facilitate adequate bone healing and avoid irreversible functional loss or deformity.
Your ankle will almost certainly be cast after the fracture has been minimized. The ankle is immobilized, allowing the bones to recover properly. You’ll probably need some form of assistive gadget to walk following an ankle fracture.
You may also be limited in your weight-bearing capacity. As your ankle recovers, make sure you ask your doctor how much weight you may put on it.
Following the reduction and immobilization of your fracture, you may be referred to physical therapy to learn how to use crutches, a cane, or a walker. Your physical therapist should be able to explain your weight-bearing limitations to you.
To ensure that the muscle groups that help you walk do not become too weak while the fracture heals, gentle exercise for the knee and hip muscles may be undertaken. If you’re wearing a cast or a brace on your ankle, you won’t be able to do any ankle exercises.
Your doctor will remove the cast and enable you to bear more weight on your fractured ankle once it has healed. You might walk with the help of a quad cane or crutches.
Your physical therapist will be able to properly assess your ankle at this stage in order to provide the best possible treatment.
The following items may be included in the ankle evaluation:
If you have an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery, your scars will be evaluated.
Your physical therapist can start treating you after a comprehensive evaluation. To address swelling or pain around your ankle, he or she may utilize treatment modalities such as heat, ice, or electrical stimulation.
Following a fracture, the main component of your ankle rehabilitation should be an ankle fracture exercise program.
Make sure to pay attention to your physical therapist’s instructions and ask questions if you have any.
Ankle fracture rehabilitation exercises may include:
- Range-of-motion exercises for the ankle
- Exercises to strengthen your ankles
- Exercises for the hips and knees (to help improve walking ability)
- Exercises that improve balance and proprioception Improve your functional mobility and walking skills by exercising.
For your broken ankle, you’ll almost certainly be needed to follow a home exercise program. This program may last for several months after physical therapy has ended, and it could be a significant part of your long-term rehabilitation success.
According to Wolff’s law, bone develops and remodels in reaction to the stress it is subjected to. Your physical therapist can help you develop workouts that apply the right amount of stress in the right direction to ensure that your fractured ankle heals properly and functions properly.
Following an ankle injury, gait training will be crucial. Your physical therapist can aid you in making the transition from utilizing an assistive device to walking on your own.
There may be scar tissue around the incision if you underwent surgery to reduce your ankle fracture. Scar tissue massage and mobilization can be performed by your physical therapist to help enhance scar mobility. He or she may also be able to show you how to do scar massage on your own.
What Is the Duration of Physical Therapy?
Everyone recovers in their own way, and each ankle fracture injury is unique. With your ankle fracture rehab, your physical therapist should review your overall prognosis with you. This prognosis is usually determined by how well your ankle moves when you begin therapy.
Physical rehabilitation for a broken ankle usually lasts 6 to 8 weeks. Depending on your injury, your individualized PT experience may be shorter or longer.
Keeping up with your home fitness regimen is an important part of your recovery. If you stick to it, you’ll be able to regain function and resume the activities you’ve been missing.
An ankle fracture can result in considerable loss of function, limiting your ability to walk, run, and fully participate in job and recreational activities. After an ankle fracture, physical therapy can help you regain mobility and return to normal activity and function safely.
If you live in the Asheville NC area and are in need of treatment, CONTACT 1on1 Physical Therapy TODAY!