Last Updated on August 31, 2023
As a chiropractor, I’m always looking for effective, drug-free ways to help my patients recover from injuries and manage chronic pain.
While my main focus is on spinal health, I’ve found that my hands-on joint adjustment techniques can also provide significant relief for ankle sprains and discomfort.
When patients limp into my office unable to put weight on their ankle, it’s gratifying to be able to improve their mobility and stability with some focused lower extremity work. Based on my clinical experience and emerging research, I believe chiropractic care can play a key role in accelerating ankle injury recovery.
In this article, I’ll share my insights into how chiropractic adjustments and related techniques can resolve ankle pain and dysfunction to get you back on your feet again.
An Introduction to Chiropractic Care
For those unfamiliar with the field, chiropractic care focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, with a particular emphasis on spinal adjustments and manipulations.
Chiropractors use their hands or small instruments to apply controlled force to joints, realigning them gently to restore mobility and provide pain relief.
While primarily associated with spinal conditions, chiropractic techniques can also be applied to other joints like the ankles.
The goal is to improve alignment, increase range of motion, and stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities.
As interest grows in non-pharmacological pain management approaches, more people are looking into chiropractic care for injuries and chronic discomfort. When it comes to ankle sprains, there is emerging research showing the potential of chiropractic treatment to accelerate recovery.
Studies Support Chiropractic Care for Ankle Injuries
While large-scale clinical trials are still limited, initial studies point to the benefits of chiropractic care in treating ankle sprains along with other sports injuries.
One promising study found that integrating chiropractic care into ankle sprain treatment resulted in decreased pain scores compared to standard medical care alone. Patients who received chiropractic adjustments and rehab exercises reported significant improvements in pain, range of motion, and ankle function.
The researchers concluded that chiropractic should be included in standard ankle sprain treatment protocols based on the observed reductions in self-reported pain. This underscores the pain relief potential of chiropractic techniques when combined with conventional medical treatments.
Additionally, a review of relevant literature found evidence that chiropractic adjustments can impact ankle range of motion along with foot biomechanics. The researchers suggested chiropractic care could be useful before or after an ankle sprain to address joint dysfunction.
While larger controlled studies are still needed, the existing research provides a promising glimpse into the benefits chiropractic may offer ankle injury recovery.
How Chiropractic Care Helps Resolve Ankle Injuries
Based on the current evidence and my personal experience with chiropractic, there are a few key ways chiropractic care can alleviate ankle pain and support healing:
One of the foundations of chiropractic care is precise joint manipulation and adjustment techniques. By applying controlled force to realign the ankle joint, chiropractors can restore range of motion and reduce pain.
I’ve found ankle adjustments provide rapid relief by releasing tension in the joint and allowing it to move properly again. It’s an effective hands-on approach to address limited mobility after an ankle injury.
Research indicates chiropractic adjustments help decrease inflammatory cytokines and stimulate blood flow. This can reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness in an injured ankle to promote healing.
After my last bad ankle roll, the chiropractic adjustments quickly reduced inflammation, alleviating that tender, swollen feeling faster than just RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) alone.
Improved Range of Motion
Ankle sprains and strains often leave residual tightness and restricted mobility, which chiropractors specifically target. They use various stretching, mobilization and manipulation techniques to improve joint flexion and extension.
I noticed my ankle range of motion steadily improved over the course of chiropractic treatment, gradually reducing the feeling of stiffness and tension with each adjustment session.
Chiropractic Techniques Used for Ankle Injuries
There are a variety of hands-on chiropractic methods that can be applied to address ankle injuries:
- Adjustment and mobilization – Direct joint manipulation restores mobility.
- Soft tissue massage – Breaks down muscle adhesions and scar tissue.
- Active release technique – Specialized massage targets restricted muscles.
- Instrument-assisted methods – Tools break down scar tissue and restrictions.
- Rehabilitation exercises – Improve strength and balance.
- Taping and bracing – Support and stabilize the ankle.
The right combination of these techniques tailored to your ankle injury promotes optimal recovery. A thorough evaluation allows chiropractors to determine the tissues involved and customize an effective treatment plan.
I found the variety of chiropractic techniques worked together to improve comfort gradually, range of motion, and function in my ankle after an injury – often faster than just basic at-home RICE treatment.
Accelerating Recovery from Ankle Sprains
One major benefit I observed from chiropractic care was a significantly shorter recovery timeline than just letting an ankle sprain heal independently.
Research suggests chiropractic can shorten recovery from ankle sprains by addressing pain, muscle tightness, and joint restrictions early on after the injury occurs. This seems to prevent chronic issues from developing and allows a quicker return to normal activity.
After starting chiropractic treatment within a few days of a bad ankle roll, I was able to resume light activity after just 1-2 weeks. My past experience letting ankle sprains rest without additional treatment resulted in 4-6 weeks of recovery.
While small, initial studies are promising, more research is still needed to fully evaluate how much chiropractic care can speed ankle sprain recovery. But the potential seems clear.
Chiropractic Care Beyond Ankle Sprains
While most relevant research has focused specifically on ankle sprains, chiropractors can also treat a variety of foot and ankle conditions beyond just sprains.
From chronic ankle instability to Achilles tendinitis to plantar fasciitis, chiropractic adjustments may alleviate discomfort and dysfunction. By improving joint mobility and alignment throughout the foot and ankle, chiropractors can address pain in multiple areas.
I’ve found chiropractic adjustments provide relief for general ankle soreness and tightness, even without a specific acute injury. The focused joint manipulation seems to have an overall therapeutic effect.
So chiropractic care should not be limited just to obvious ankle sprains – it can potentially help resolve an array of foot and ankle pains that commonly afflict active individuals.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chiropractic for Ankles
If you’re considering chiropractic treatment for an ankle injury, here are answers to some common questions:
*Can chiropractors treat a completely torn ligament or tendon?
While chiropractic care may help, a complete tear often requires medical treatment from an orthopedic specialist. Chiropractors can provide adjunctive therapy but cannot repair a fully torn ligament or tendon.
*What kinds of foot conditions do chiropractors treat?
Chiropractors address plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, bunions, and hammertoes. Foot adjustments and mobilizations can improve function.
*Is complete recovery from an ankle injury possible with just chiropractic treatment?
It depends on the severity of the injury. Minor sprains and pains often resolve fully with chiropractic care. More significant tears may also require medical intervention to heal completely.
*How long does it take to see results with chiropractic care?
You can expect gradual mobility, function, and pain improvement over the first 4-6 chiropractic sessions. Acute symptoms like swelling subside quickly. Chronic issues take longer.
*What results can I realistically expect from chiropractic ankle treatment?
Most people experience substantially decreased pain, improved range of motion, increased joint stability, and quicker return to normal activity when incorporating chiropractic care.
The Takeaway: Chiropractic for Ankle Injuries
Based on the current research and my positive personal experiences, I believe chiropractic care has significant potential to help resolve ankle sprains and related injuries.
The hands-on joint adjustment techniques seem to address dysfunction and pain at the source, while also stimulating the body’s natural healing capacities. Anecdotally, I’ve found chiropractic shortens my ankle injury recovery timeline and reduces lingering stiffness.
Of course, more large-scale studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness and ideal treatment protocols better. But given the non-invasive nature of chiropractic care, it seems worth considering as a supplemental therapy for an ankle sprain or chronic ankle pain.
While not a stand-alone cure-all, chiropractic adjustment, and mobilization techniques appear to be a promising piece of the puzzle when it comes to recovering from and preventing ankle injuries. I would certainly suggest speaking to your chiropractor to learn more about how it may help!