If you’ve ever been affected by a sprained ankle, you know how much of a struggle self-care can be. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the do’s and don’t’s of sprained ankle self-care. By having the best self-care possible, you can have the best recovery possible as well.
Treating Sprained Ankle: The RICE Method
The best method for treating sprained ankle is to remember RICE. RICE stands for:
Rest your ankle as much as possible by not walking on it. Limit any weight bearing, and use crutches if necessary. If there isn’t a broken bone, you are safe to put weight on the leg. You may also get an ankle brace to control swelling and add stability to the healing ligaments.
Ice your ankle regularly to reduce the swelling. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, use a thin piece of cloth like a pillowcase or washcloth between the ice bag and the skin. Avoid icing for more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.
Keeping the ankle compressed serves two important functions. First, it controls swelling in the ankle. Second, it immobilizes and supports the injury to help it heal correctly. This is best done with a compression bandage or similar binding support.
Keep your foot elevated by reclining and propping it up above the waist or heart as needed.
These guidelines work for both mild and moderate ankle sprains (Grades 1 and 2). However, healing time depends on the severity of the sprain and necessary treatment.
For more severe Grade 3 sprains, there is a risk of permanent ankle looseness or instability. On rare occasions, surgery may be necessary to repair damage to the ligaments. Your doctor may also recommend a short leg cast for 2 to 3 weeks or a walking boot.
Sprained Ankle Self Care: What Not to Do
The most important aspect of sprained ankle self care is to take the rehabilitation process seriously. If a sprain is not properly rehabilitated, the ankle might not heal completely, which could lead to re-injury.
All ankle sprains, regardless of severity, have three phases of recovery:
- The first phase is resting, protecting, and reducing swelling of the injured ankle.
- The second phase is restoring the ankle’s flexibility, range of motion, and strength. Your doctor will prescribe exercise routines to strengthen those muscles and ligaments.
- Gradually return to straight-ahead activity and maintenance exercises. This step can then be followed by returning to more ankle-intensive sports, like tennis, basketball, or football.
After a long recovery, you may be impatient to rush through this process to return to regular activity. It’s very important, however, to complete a rehabilitation program after an ankle sprain of any severity. This ensures that you’re less likely to re-injure the ankle. Plus, it’ll reduce the risk of side effects like chronic pain, looseness, or arthritis.
If your ankle still hurts, the sprained ligament may not have healed correctly, or another injury may have occurred. To prevent future sprained ankles, pay attention to your body's warning signs and slow down when you feel pain or fatigue. Another good method is by staying in shape with muscle balance, flexibility, and strength. Together, this can help prevent future injuries, and help your body fully heal from past ones.
Sprained Ankle Therapy Options with Diablo Foot and Ankle
While most sprained ankles will heal over time at home, it can be a frustrating challenge to face alone. Don’t face the challenge of self-care alone: find expert support for your sprained ankle injuries with Diablo Foot and Ankle.
Diablo Foot and Ankle has board-certified Podiatrists, Dr. Elmi and Dr. Essapoor, who can answer any questions about treating a sprained ankle. A wide range of sprained ankle therapy and treatment options are available to the residents of Walnut Creek and Antioch.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.