Physical Therapy for Ankle Issues: What to Expect

You may have fractured an ankle in a fall or other accident, or you might be recovering from surgery. Or you might be experiencing ankle pain as part of a condition like arthritis. 

The delicate joint formed between the bone of your foot, called the talus, and the tibia and fibula of your lower leg can be vulnerable. Without the right treatment, you risk ongoing pain and mobility issues, damaging your ability to live a full life. With physical therapy, many of our patients make a full recovery from their ankle issues.

Still, physical therapy can seem intimidating, especially if you're already in pain due to an existing injury. At Town Center Foot & Ankle, our compassionate care team, expertly led by podiatric physician and surgeon Stephen Eichelsdorfer, DPM, works to keep you fully supported during your healing process. Here's what you can expect from a physical therapy regimen for ankle issues.

How soon should I begin physical therapy?

Right after you experience an ankle fracture, you should get the injury treated. A doctor may reduce your fracture, repositioning your bones for proper healing, and then may need to apply a cast to immobilize the area.

Physical therapy becomes helpful after this, no matter what your next steps need to be. If you need to use an assistive device like a cane, physical therapy can help you learn how to adapt. If you don't have a cast or a brace, or once it comes off, it's time to start exercising your injured ankle, rebuilding your strength and flexibility.

Putting together a plan

We begin physical therapy by evaluating your injured ankle. We look at your pain levels, physical symptoms like swelling, gait, strength, and range of motion. Once we have a clear idea of the condition of your ankle, we can work with you on a plan for your full rehabilitation.

Treatment for ankle issues probably won't stop at your shins. Your physical therapy will also likely include exercises to support your hips and knees, as well as actions to increase your natural balance and proprioception.

In addition to stretching and strengthening exercises for your ankle, we might recommend therapies like heat or icing to address swelling or pain. During your sessions, we also might suggest using targeted electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound therapy to aid your healing.

How long will I need support?

After going over each of your exercises with medical support to learn the correct positioning and intensity, you need to continue to repeat them over and over again to see your best results. In addition to completing sets of multiple types of exercises during each treatment session, we usually recommend that you perform exercises at home, too.

Everyone's healing pace is different, so the length of your program will be part of your individual plan. We typically see patients a few times a week for about 6-8 weeks. Each time you come in for an in-office session, we reevaluate your condition, adjusting your plan as necessary to provide full support. 

To begin your physical therapy journey toward complete ankle restoration, contact Town Center Foot & Ankle now. You can book your first session at our Kingwood or Atascocita, Texas, office over the phone or online.

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