A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when the ligaments that support your ankle are damaged. A sprained ankle is one of the most common types of foot or ankle injuries that doctors treat each year. Sprained ankles can occur any time somebody rolls their ankle or sustains heavy foot or ankle trauma.
Properly treating a sprained ankle is very important to the overall recovery process. If not treated properly, you could sustain long-term or chronic damage to your ankle in serious cases. How to treat a sprained ankle will depend partially on the severity of the injury. But there are several key steps to take when treating a sprained ankle no matter how severe it is.
How to Treat a Sprained Ankle
Before you begin treating a sprained ankle, it’s important to make sure you have not sustained a more serious injury. If you experience numbness, discoloration, or bleeding associated with an ankle injury, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Sprained ankle symptoms include tenderness, an inability to put weight on the injured foot, swelling, bruising, popping, or ankle instability.
When treating a sprained ankle, the “RICE” method is generally recommended as a simple, effective form of home treatment. RICE stands for “Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate”, which describes the four basic steps for treating a mild (Grade I) to moderate (Grade II) ankle sprain.
Rest helps keep pressure off the ankle, preventing further damage. Ice can be used to reduce swelling and numb the pain in the injured area. Doctors recommend icing the sprained ankle for 20 to 30-minute periods every two hours.
Compression similarly reduces swelling and also provides stability to the injured ankle by keeping it immobile. The compression when treating a sprained ankle should be loose. If you apply too much pressure, you could cause further damage and instability. Compression wraps for ankles can be purchased at most pharmacies and applied at home.
Lastly, elevation reduces the buildup of fluid in the injured ankle. This reduces swelling and speeds up the healing process. The recommendation for sprained ankle treatment is to keep the ankle raised slightly above the heart when lying down.
Sprained Ankle Recovery Time
The exact timeline of your sprained ankle recovery will depend on the severity of the sprain itself. With proper rest and care, a Grade I sprain typically heals in two weeks to one month. Grade II ankle sprains may take a month to a month and a half to heal. A Grade III ankle sprain, in which ankle ligaments are fully torn, may take anywhere from three to six months to fully heal.
Diagnosing a sprained ankle is important because it allows you to receive direct sprained ankle treatment. A doctor can prescribe equipment or procedures to aid your sprained ankle recovery. As mentioned, compression wraps can help immobilize the joint, thus providing better stability. Crutches or a walking boot can also be used to take pressure off the ankle while you move throughout your day.
In most cases, sprained ankles do not require surgery and can heal on their own. However, this does not mean you should neglect your sprained ankle treatment. The key to sprained ankle recovery is avoiding added pressure on the joint. Neglecting your recovery from a sprained ankle can extend the recovery period and lead to chronic discomfort or ankle instability.
If you have suffered a sprained ankle or another chronic foot or ankle injury, Diablo Foot & Ankle can help. Diablo’s expert team of podiatrists has years of experience treating all types of foot and ankle ailments. If you are suffering from a serious foot or ankle injury, contact us today for a consultation.
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.