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How to Make the Most of Physical Therapy for Ankle Pain

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If you’ve just had orthopedic surgery — and that includes ankle replacement surgery — the board-certified orthopedic surgeons here at Orthopedic Specialists of Oakland County have likely recommended physical therapy.

That’s because physical therapy can play a big role in your recovery from surgery. Physical therapy can help with pain management, improve the functionality of your ankle, improve your range of motion, and even help post-operative swelling and stiffness.

Even if you haven’t yet had surgery, physical therapy can still help with ankle pain. Physical therapy can be part of a rehabilitation plan after a sports injury, or it can help you reduce the pain of ankle arthritis. 

But how can you ensure you reap all of those benefits of physical therapy? Here are seven tips to make the most out of your physical therapy for ankle pain.

1. Stay consistent

Consistency is key to successful physical therapy. Attend all your scheduled sessions, and follow your Orthopedic Specialist of Oakland County therapist's recommended exercises and home care instructions diligently. Skipping appointments or neglecting your at-home exercises can slow down your progress.

2. Communicate effectively

Open and honest communication with your physical therapist is crucial. Be sure to discuss your pain levels, progress, and any concerns you may have during your sessions. If something isn’t working right (or if something hurts), don’t brush it off. Our team can adjust your treatment plan accordingly to optimize results.

3. Understand your goals

Work with your physical therapist to set clear, achievable goals. Whether it's reducing pain, regaining flexibility, or improving strength, having specific objectives will help you stay motivated and track your progress.

4. Focus on proper technique

Pay close attention to your at-home instructions on proper exercise and stretching techniques. Performing exercises incorrectly can lead to further injury or delay your recovery.

Tip: Bring a notebook to jot down your instructions.

5. Complement physical therapy with lifestyle changes

When it comes to managing ankle pain, physical therapy is just one piece of the puzzle. Lifestyle adjustments paired with physical therapy can go a long way in making the most of your physical therapy sessions.

This includes following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, staying hydrated, and avoiding any and all activities that exacerbate your ankle pain. Always wear the right shoes for the activity that you are participating in — that includes wearing high-top hiking boots when you hike in beautiful Michigan, to protect your ankles against sprains — and avoid anything that can compromise the health of your ankle.

6. Focus on gradual progression

While you might be excited to get back on your feet, avoid pushing yourself too hard or too fast. Gradually progress through your rehabilitation program to allow your body time to adapt and heal. Rushing the process can lead to setbacks.

The same goes for your at-home exercises. Don’t rush just “get it over with.” Take your time and perform each exercise carefully and properly. Consider listening to an audiobook or music to pass the time while you complete your exercises.

7. Protect your ankle

Once you've completed your physical therapy and your ankle pain has improved, continue with preventive measures. This may include wearing supportive footwear, using orthotics, eating an anti-inflammatory diet to help improve arthritis, and practicing exercises to maintain ankle strength and flexibility.

Is physical therapy right for you?

Physical therapy can be a powerful ally in managing and recovering from ankle pain, and the best part is that it complements other pain management strategies, lifestyle modifications, and both surgical and non-surgical interventions.

If you're struggling with chronic ankle pain, schedule your consultation with us to explore your options. You can also call 248-335-2977 to reach either office: Bloomfield Hills or Clarkston, Michigan.