Among the numerous injuries associated with sports activities, one of the most common and one which can be very upsetting would be foot sprains. Aside from causing pain at the slightest movement, foot sprains may take a while before they are fully recovered. In order to hasten the return to the playing field, treatment using physical therapy becomes very vital.
For the mild and moderate injuries which may be classified as Grade I and II sprains, the usual treatment would include medications for the pain and swelling, immobilization using devices in order to protect ligaments and joints, and physical therapy for the recovery and rehabilitation. Cases were ligaments may be completely torn or those categorized as Grade III, surgical interventions may be required, otherwise the treatment would be immobilization and medications. In either case, the patient would have to undergo physical therapy for his or her rehabilitation.
As in most musculoskeletal injuries, initial management would consist of the RICE method which stands for the following:
- Resting the injured part in order to avoid worsening the condition.
- Icing the foot to reduce any swelling.
- Compressing the injured part to minimize pain and inflammation
- Elevating the foot above heart level.
After these initial procedures, physical therapy may then commence. The program would largely depend on the circumstances of the patient which will be determined after the therapist conducts a comprehensive evaluation. The objective here is to strengthen the injured foot, improve flexibility and range of motion, improve function, and restore the strength of the patient. These physical therapy interventions are started after the removal of the immobilization device or when the therapist sees the patient ready for further exercises.
Physical Tools or Modalities
When applying physical therapy, the therapist may use a number of interventions or modalities which may include the following:
- Therapeutic exercises (TE) which may be composed of stretching and strengthening exercises to regain range of motion and strengthen the injured foot.
- Manual therapeutic techniques (MTT) that include soft tissue massage or joint mobilization.
- Neuromuscular Reeducation (NMR) for the purpose of retraining the parts that have been immobilized so as to regain proper function and to regain stability.
- Depending on the situation of the patient, a therapist may decide to use the different modalities available in physical therapy such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound, hot and cold application, hydrotherapy, and laser therapy.
- The therapist will also provide a patient with a program that will be observed when the patient goes home. These will include exercises for strength, range of motion, stabilization, and improvement of functional skills.