Laser for Pain

Ankle sprains, a prevalent injury among athletes and the general population, can result from sudden twists, turns, or rolling of the ankle, leading to ligament damage and pain. While conventional treatments like rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) along with physical therapy have been the standard approach for managing ankle sprains, the emergence of laser therapy offers a promising and innovative method to expedite healing and alleviate symptoms.

Understanding Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch or tear, causing pain, swelling, and instability. These injuries range in severity, from mild stretches to severe tears that may significantly impair mobility and require extensive rehabilitation. The affected ligaments typically include the lateral ligaments on the outside of the ankle, particularly the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL).

Ankle sprains are common injuries characterized by damage to the ligaments around the ankle joint due to sudden twisting, rolling, or turning of the foot. These injuries are classified into different types based on the affected ligaments and the severity of the injury. The three primary types of ankle sprains are:

1. Lateral Ankle Sprains:

Lateral ankle sprains are the most prevalent type and involve injury to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle; anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL), and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL). They are further categorized into three grades:

  • Grade I (Mild): Involves stretching or minor tearing of the ligaments without significant instability. Mild pain, swelling, and slight difficulty in weight-bearing may occur.
  • Grade II (Moderate): Involves partial tearing of the ligaments, causing moderate pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty in weight-bearing. Some instability might be experienced.
  • Grade III (Severe): Involves complete tearing or rupture of the ligaments, leading to severe pain, significant swelling, extensive bruising, marked instability, and difficulty or inability to bear weight on the affected ankle.

2. Medial Ankle Sprains:

Medial ankle sprains are less common and affect the ligaments on the inner side of the ankle. The deltoid ligament supports the entire medial side of the ankle; it is composed of the anterior tibiotalar ligament (ATTL), posterior tibiotalar ligament (PTTL), tibiocalcaneal ligament (TCL), and the tibionavicular ligament (TNL). These sprains usually occur due to excessive inward rolling or twisting of the foot. While less frequent, they can still cause significant pain, swelling, and instability, particularly on the inner aspect of the ankle.

3. High Ankle Sprains (Syndesmotic Sprains):

High ankle sprains involve injury to the syndesmotic ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones above the ankle joint. These ligaments provide stability to the lower leg and are injured when the foot is forcefully twisted outward or during high-impact activities. High ankle sprains tend to cause pain and instability higher up the leg compared to typical ankle sprains.

Differentiating Factors:

  • Location of Injury: Lateral, medial, or high ankle (syndesmotic) sprains based on the affected ligaments.
  • Severity: Graded based on the extent of ligament damage and resulting symptoms—ranging from mild stretching to complete tearing or rupture of ligaments.

Conventional Treatments

Recent research suggests that while ice has been a longstanding method for managing acute injuries like ankle sprains by reducing pain and swelling, its application might have limitations in promoting optimal recovery. Studies propose that excessive or prolonged use of ice immediately after an injury might impede the body’s natural healing processes. Ice, when applied for extended periods, can potentially restrict blood flow to the injured area, delaying the delivery of essential nutrients and immune cells needed for tissue repair. This delayed inflammatory response may hinder the initial stages of healing and could potentially slow down the overall recovery process for ankle sprains. However, the debate continues, and it’s essential to consult healthcare professionals for personalized recommendations regarding the use of ice and other appropriate interventions for ankle sprain management.

Here is an article that you may read regarding RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate).

Laser Therapy as a Treatment Modality

High-Intensity Laser Therapy (HILT) or Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) involves the application of concentrated light energy onto the affected area of the ankle. This non-invasive treatment aims to stimulate cellular processes, accelerate tissue repair, and reduce inflammation, promoting faster healing of ligament injuries.

Mechanism of Action

Cellular Stimulation: Laser therapy penetrates deep into tissues, stimulating cellular activity and increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source for cells. This heightened energy metabolism enhances tissue repair and regeneration.

Reduced Inflammation: The therapy helps modulate the inflammatory response, managing swelling and minimizing pain in the injured area, which is crucial in the initial stages of healing.

Pain Relief: Laser therapy can inhibit nerve signals, reducing pain sensation and providing relief for individuals suffering from ankle sprain discomfort.

Application of Laser Therapy for Ankle Sprains

Laser therapy sessions for ankle sprains should be administered by trained healthcare professionals due to the high-intensity treatment. The treatment involves directing the laser onto the injured area, focusing on the affected ligaments and surrounding tissues. With a Class IV laser, the beam is able to be concentrated and adjusted to treat the specific, damaged area. The sessions are non-invasive, painless, and relatively brief, with patients experiencing a gentle warming sensation during treatment.

Laser treatment for ankle sprains is very prominent in the sports medicine field right now. High-intensity laser therapy has taken the industry by storm. With aiding and being an effective option for ankle sprains, athletes are able to get back on the field, court, or track without being out as long. The effects of ankle sprains, weakness and poor control, can also be worked on and maintained with treatment of laser therapy. HILT has been shown to increase strength performance and muscle recover, thus allowing for strength and control deficits to be worked on while recovering.


Ankle sprains can significantly hinder mobility and athletic performance, requiring timely and effective treatment for optimal recovery. Laser therapy, with its ability to expedite healing, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain, emerges as a promising adjunctive or standalone treatment option for individuals dealing with ankle sprains.

However, it’s crucial to consult healthcare professionals for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan tailored to individual needs. Laser therapy, when integrated with comprehensive rehabilitation strategies, showcases immense potential in facilitating quicker recovery, restoring function, and enabling individuals to return to their daily activities and sports sooner following an ankle sprain.

As research into the effectiveness and optimal protocols of laser therapy continues, it holds the promise of revolutionizing the management and rehabilitation of ankle sprains, marking a significant advancement in sports medicine and injury recovery.

Understanding the different types of ankle sprains is essential in diagnosing and appropriately managing these injuries. While mild sprains may respond well to conservative treatments like rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) along with physical therapy, more moderate to severe sprains might require more intensive rehabilitation, such as laser therapy. Seeking prompt medical attention and adhering to a tailored treatment plan are crucial in ensuring proper healing and preventing long-term complications following an ankle sprain. Reach out to us today and get scheduled for an evaluation with one of our highly-trained professionals! Don’t wait- it is best to treat an ankle sprain right away!