3 PT treatments for a sprained ankle that’s also causing knee pain

A sprained ankle can be painful and keep you from going about your usual routines at work, school or home. It may take several weeks or months to fully heal. If your knee starts hurting too, it might seem like the original sprain is getting worse. But don’t get too worried — it’s pretty common to feel an ache in your knee if a problem in your ankle is causing reduced mobility. 

An ankle sprain is a stretch OR tear in the ligaments that surround your ankle, which are there to hold your bones in place. This usually happens when you twist or turn your ankle beyond its normal range of motion. Since the ankle and knee are linked together anatomically, their pain can be, too. 

The knee and ankle are connected by the tibia, also known as the shinbone, and a nerve called the peroneal nerve. When the ankle joint is injured, the knee can try to overcompensate for its reduced range of motion. Without even thinking about it, you may put more of your weight on your knee while you move and cause excessive stress.

This article will cover some physical therapy treatments that can help you with both your sprained ankle and knee pain and speed up the recovery process to get you walking normally again.

Physical therapy treatments for sprained ankle and knee pain

You can do much more with physical therapy than increase strength and range of motion in your knee and ankle. While you’re feeling sprained ankle and knee pain, there are a few gentle types of treatment that can start relieving inflammation and stiffness. Your PT will be able to analyze how your walking movements are impacting your injury and make suggestions on how to get around without making your pain worse. Some of the treatments will be performed by your PT in the clinic, and some are exercises you will learn and continue on your own.

The following physical therapy treatments can help you recover from sprained ankle and knee pain:

  • Therapeutic exercise Your physical therapist can show you the best exercises for strengthening the muscles around your ankle and knee without causing more pain. The stronger muscles can help support your joints, which may reduce the stress on the injured ligaments. Stretching can also help prevent stiffness in the knee, ankle and foot while you’re recovering. 
  • Manual therapy — This is a hands-on technique. Your physical therapist will mobilize your ankle and knee joints by manipulating the soft tissue around them. Manual therapy may help improve the range of motion of your ankle while it’s recovering. It can also reduce your pain by stimulating the nerves and increasing blood flow to the injured areas, which may reduce inflammation. 
  • Gait training — How you walk — your pace, rhythm, and style — is also known as your gait. After an ankle injury, you may find that both your gait and your balance are affected. It may not be the original injury that’s holding you back from healing, but chronic weakness or slow reflexes. Gait training can improve your leg and foot movement to increase your stability and help you move faster, with better posture and without pain. 

Benefits of physical therapy for sprained ankle and knee pain

You probably won’t want to move your ankle around too much while it’s in a lot of pain. (That’s understandable.) The main goals in physical therapy are always to restore pain-free mobility and function and to prevent the injury or pain from recurring. Physical therapists are medical experts in musculoskeletal conditions, so you’re in safe hands during treatments. Some of the movements may stretch your ankle and knee to the point of discomfort, but with the ultimate purpose of relieving your sprained ankle and knee pain in the long run.

We’ve already discussed a few benefits of treating your sprained ankle and knee pain with physical therapy, but here’s the full list:

  • Manage pain and discomfort.
  • Reduce stiffness.
  • Increase stability.
  • Regain range of motion and mobility.
  • Regain strength.
  • Speed up recovery.
  • Prevent future injury.

Find relief for sprained ankle and knee pain at Advent PT

Our PTs want to help you get some quick relief from your sprained ankle and knee pain while setting you up for a fast and complete recovery. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself — with a little nudge in the right direction.

Call us or request an appointment today to learn more about treatment for sprained ankle and knee pain at Advent Physical Therapy.