How to Treat a Sprained Ankle At Home
A sprained ankle is something that can affect anyone at any age. Rolling or overstretching the ankles can lead to a sprain if the ligaments in your ankle are pulled hard enough. Sprained ankles are a common problem, especially for athletes. Since ankle sprains tend to happen when you're running or jumping, playing volleyball, soccer or football are the top sports where athletes are likely to experience an ankle sprain.
Levels of ankle sprains
There are three types of sprains: mild, moderate and severe.
• Mild: The ligaments in your ankle are stretched but not torn. You are still able to walk. However, your ankle is swollen and stiff.
• Moderate: One ligament might be entirely or partially torn. Walking is painful, and the ankle is tender to the touch. Your ankle is also swollen and stiff.
• Severe: Complete tears in the ligaments, making the ankle feel unstable. You cannot walk—intense pain with severe swelling and bruising.
No matter the severity of your sprain, you should treat your ankle right away.
At-home ankle sprain treatments
• Rest: The first step in treating a sprained ankle is to let it rest. Take the weight off it; try not to move it too much and consider crutches if the pain is bad enough.
• Ice: Use ice or a cold pack on the affected area. Put some ice in a kitchen towel and place it on your foot for about 30 minutes. Don't place the ice directly onto your skin. Don't exceed 30 minutes and wait at least an hour in between icing. This will help reduce swelling.
• Compression: The third step is to compress the area. Using something like a wrap or ankle sleeve can help with swelling, pain and recovery time by constricting movement and offering support to the injured area. Compression is not always necessary in treating a grade mild sprained ankle. However, it will make the recovery period more comfortable and faster. Make sure not to wrap it too tight!
• Elevation: The final step is to elevate the foot, preferably to above the heart level. The best way to do this is by laying down on a couch or bed with the foot resting on the armrest or footboard.
You can also take over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen, to alleviate the pain.
When to see a doctor after an ankle sprain
If you cannot walk on your ankle or the pain feels extreme, it's time to go to the doctor. Your doctor can take an x-ray of your ankle and perform a physical exam to determine if any ligaments have been torn and how serious the injury is. You should also see your doctor if your pain continues and you are concerned that your ankle is healing improperly. However, please note that injuries like these will take time to heal, so you must be patient.
Recovering and strengthening after an ankle injury
For your ankle to heal well and be strong enough to lift your body, you'll need to perform some stretches while recovering. You can use an elastic band on your ankle to pull it towards you or flex it back, you can write the alphabet in the air with your foot or you can stand against a wall to stretch it.
How to prevent a sprained ankle
You can't predict every time you might fall, but you can be ready if you do. First, start by wearing supportive shoes and watching where you walk. For example, wearing heels when it's icy outside isn't the wisest choice. Instead, wear something sturdy, like boots. You can also prevent a sprained ankle during exercise by taking the time to warm up first. During your workout, pay attention to your body. If you feel worn out or in pain, stop; you don't want to risk an injury.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, find a foot and ankle specialist today to get the relief you need.