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Why did I wake up with a sprained ankle?

Woke Up With Sprained Ankle
4 minutes, 29 seconds

A sprain is a condition that occurs when a ligament stretches too far or tears. Ligaments are the tissue that keeps your bones together in your joints. When the ligament tears or stretches, a painful sprain is the result. Sprains can happen pretty much anywhere there is a joint in your body. However, there are a few spots that are more susceptible to becoming sprained, like the ankle.

Most often, ankle sprains are caused when a person rolls their ankle, lands in an awkward position, or too much pressure is applied against it from an abnormal angle. Sprains can be painful when they occur and make walking and running uncomfortable to perform until the sprain is healed. Healing usually takes several weeks to complete, but each person’s healing time depends on the severity of their sprain and how much they rest their injury.

Have you recently woken up and discovered that your ankle seems to be sprained? Though it may seem strange, there are a few explanations for this feeling. Keep reading below to learn more about how you can identify if your ankle is sprained, why you may have woken up with what seems like a sprained ankle, and what types of treatments exist for those with sprained ankles.

How can you identify an ankle sprain?

There are a few different symptoms that you can use to self-identify your ankle injury. If you think you may have sprained it, here are some symptoms that are usually telltale signs of a sprain. 

  • Painful — Most people with an ankle sprain report feeling pain to some degree. Everyone’s pain levels are different based on their pain tolerance, but sprains are notorious for being pretty uncomfortable.
  • Hard to bear weight — Another telltale sign of an ankle sprain is difficulty bearing your own weight load. If you try to walk or run on your ankle and you experience pain or significant discomfort, you may be dealing with an ankle sprain.
  • Bruising — If you notice that a bruise has begun to form, it could be the result of a ligament tear. When bruising occurs in addition to the other symptoms mentioned in this list, a sprain is most likely the cause.
  • Swelling — Not only will you experience discomfort, difficulty bearing weight, and bruising, but one of the biggest signs of a sprained ankle is swelling. Your body will send more fluid to the area of injury during an inflammatory response to protect your ankle from further damage.

Why did I wake up with a sprained ankle?

If you’ve woken up with what seems to be a sprained ankle, you might be surprised to learn that you probably haven’t actually sprained it. However, it’s common for people to wake up with similar symptoms, like ankle pain and stiffness when walking after they get out of bed. Below are two possible explanations:

  • Arthritis — Arthritis is a term for joint pain and inflammation. If you’re waking up in the mornings with pain, stiffness and swelling in your ankle, it could be the result of chronic joint inflammation.
  • Nerve damage — If your ankle pain is sharp and shooting when you wake up in the morning, it might be because of nerve damage instead of a sprain. Nerve damage to this area of the body is called tarsal tunnel syndrome and it can be painful to deal with.

If after reading the list of symptoms and causes of waking up with what feels like a sprained ankle, you suspect that you do have a sprain, you should seek out the diagnosis of a medical professional. They can help confirm or deny the presence of an injury to a ligament in your ankle and work to determine its root cause. Not only that, but they will help you decide which course of action may be best for dealing with your injury. To learn about some of your treatment options, keep reading.

What are some treatment options for those dealing with an ankle sprain?

  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy can be helpful for those who have sprained their ankle. Therapists can work with their patients to develop a uniquely designed care plan to treat an ankle sprain and promote a safe recovery that isn’t prolonged any further than it has to be.
  • Rest — One of the best things you can do for yourself after an ankle injury is to rest it. You’ll need to allow your body time to heal before you can use it again without risking reinjury.
  • Ice — Frequently using ice packs can help reduce inflammation if you have a sprained ankle. Ice can not only reduce inflammation and swelling, but it can also provide temporary relief from pain.
  • Surgical procedure — Depending on the severity of the sprain and the effectiveness of the treatments mentioned above, some ankle sprains may require surgery to correct the injury. Surgical procedures are not only used in severe cases, but sometimes also for those who frequently experience repeated ankle sprains, those who experience extreme levels of pain due to their sprain, and those who struggle to return to normal activities after an extended period of time. Getting a surgical procedure done can be beneficial for those who don’t respond to conservative treatments, but it may also present a risk of developing complications.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for a sprained ankle

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address why you woke up with what feels like a sprained ankle. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!


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