Massage to assist the recovery of a broken ankle
My husband has broken his ankle 5 times now. The last time was after I had started training to be a massage therapist which gave me the perfect opportunity not only to practice but also to observe the impact that massage can have on such an injury. For the first 48hrs after any accident massage is not recommended. This is because the area is working through its natural inflammatory response. However, the swelling that often occurs can be more extensive than is required. This is one of the things massage can assist with. Increasing the blood flow in the area encourages a reduction in swelling, allowing the joint to move more freely, which in turn increases the fluid within it helping the movements to be smoother.
For my husband it is a very weak spot and he experiences a great deal of inflammation to the point where the ankle bone is no longer visable and the full foot and ankle are heavily bruised. After the first two days there is still a great deal of pain and very little mobility within the joint, meaning that walking on it is problematic. Massage was carried out everyday, very gently and for very short periods of time. Primarily it was performed only underneath the injury and with basic effleurage to get the blood flowing, providing nutrients and oxygen and clearing away waste and toxins. An improvement was seen almost immediately and mobility improved far quicker. He was encouraged to move the ankle as much as he could without causing any pain, even the slightest of movements is good to keep the joint mobile and encourage the synovial fluid to lubricate it. After 4 days the pain had diminished sufficiently for me to begin working above the ankle bone and after a further week I was able to delicately massage directly over the broken bone. Swelling reduction was substantial, the best recovery he had ever had. Typically a broken ankle is expected to take 3-6 months to heal. In my husbands case it has always taken a minimum of 6 months. This time however after 10 weeks he was able to fully put pressure on it and there was no swelling left. In order to achieve this result massage was carried out everyday including mobility techniques.
The recovery from this last injury has been far better than the previous ones. Progress was noticed far more regularly and maximum capability was reached much quicker. Given the amount of damage done over the years weakness in the joint is to be expected, chronic pain and swelling occur sporadically and will be continued to be managed using massage and kinetic taping. The tape provides him with support during day to day activities and helps to ease the muscular pain aswell. He was very skeptical of it at first but has found great relief using the tape.