The answer is yes, you should have physio after an ankle fracture. If you sustained an ankle injury you should ever go to the ER, your GP, or a physiotherapist. They will be able to determine if the ankle is fractured or sprained.
After you have been medically diagnosed with an ankle fracture you may or may not need surgery, depending on the severity or complexity of the break. Regardless, of if you need surgery or not, you will need to see a physiotherapist because a structured and specific treatment program will promote optimal recovery.
Physiotherapy is so important after an ankle fracture, especially if you have been in a cast for 6 or more weeks, you will need to strengthen the lower leg and ankle. Even with minor ankle fractures, stress fractures, physiotherapy is still highly recommended.
Physiotherapy after an ankle fracture can reduce pain, improve strength and range of motion, increase balance and proprioception (the ability to sense where your body is in space), prevent future ankle injuries such as re-fractures or injury recurrence.
If you have had physio after a broken ankle we would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below with your experience.
Should You See A Physio After An Ankle Fracture?
You should definitely see a physio after an ankle fracture. Your GP or surgeon will probably refer you to a physiotherapist for follow-up treatment, and your physiotherapist will keep your GP updated on your efforts and progress throughout treatment.
Reasons To See A Physio
There are many reasons why seeing a physiotherapist after an ankle fracture is a good idea.
- Physio will help reduce pain and swelling around the ankle joint.
- They will give gentle exercises that are safe for the ankle, and promote healing.
- if your break required surgery, the physio will help decrease post-operative pain and swelling. (check out our post on post-op physio for more info)
- Physio treatments are designed to prevent reoccurring injuries by strengthening the muscles around the ankle joint so they work better in tandem with the ligaments and tendons, in turn promoting a full recovery and helping prevent you from future injury.
- Physio will help you improve the range of motion in your ankle joint by helping to prevent scar tissue build-up which can lead to restricted mobility.
- You will learn how to increase your balance and proprioception which is the body’s ability to sense where it is in space. Having good balance and awareness of where you are can help prevent re-injury as well as falls.
- Physio will safely and gradually facilitate returning to normal hobbies and sporting activities.
There are several goals your physiotherapist will formulate with you. Such as:
- Reduce pain.
- Increase range of motion.
- Increase the strength of the lower leg and ankle.
- Increase the stability of the ankle joint.
- Improve weight-bearing.
- Improve or normalize gait (how you walk).
- Improve balance, coordination, and proprioception.
- Improve ability to jump and run, and perform plyometric movements (if you want to return to sports).
Rehabilitation for ankle fractures can take time, so be patient with your body, and be consistent, and know you are doing your best to help your ankle heal, so you can return to your normal activities. Give it time.
Sports Specific Rehab
If you are keen to get back to sports and this ankle injury has been holding you back, a physio can get the back on the field or court or trails, safely and without the fear of re-injury with advanced sports-specific physio rehab.
When you are ready to return back sports, physio is important for preventing future reoccurring injuries because the physio will work with your specific needs and injury history. They can assess if there are any deficits in strength, range of motion, or stability that may predispose you to another ankle fracture or re-injury when returning back to sports.
In addition, the physio will teach you what is safe and effective when returning back to your sport or activity of choice after an ankle fracture which helps ensure a good return-to-play plan.
Your physio will continue to monitor you at follow-ups, these appointments can be several weeks or months apart. They may also give ongoing suggestions for more exercises you can do on your own to prevent the reoccurrence of the injury.
Yes, you should have physio after an ankle fracture. Ankle fractures are common and physio is one of the best treatment options for decreasing pain, swelling, and maintaining mobility as well as preventing reoccurring injuries. The physio will help you return back to your normal activities safely so that it doesn’t affect your life or daily activities such as work or school. Ask a physio for treatment options to help you achieve a full recovery from your ankle fracture.