We have all sprained our ankles at some point in our lives. Planting your feet carelessly on uneven surfaces or applying excess pressure on your ankles due to vigorous activity can cause you to sprain your ankle.
A sprain in your ankle can hinder your daily activities. Simple tasks like casual walking become painful. This can make you miserable, especially if you are slated to go on a trekking trip or have an event coming up.
In this article, we will share simple tips and tricks to treat a sprained ankle at home.
You may sprain your ankle when you accidentally turn your foot or twist it awkwardly. Typically, in an ankle sprain, you injure the ligaments that connect the bones in your legs to your feet.
It is essential to know that ligaments have a specific range of motion. Stretching the ligaments beyond this boundary results in a sprain. Ligaments are tissues that help stabilize the joints. Hence, you must make sure not to exert your joints or apply too much pressure. When you sprain your ankle, you usually injure the ligaments on the outer edge of your ankle.
If the sprain does not heal after a day or two, you must consult your doctor. Depending on its severity, it can take a few days to a couple of months to heal completely.
We will now explore the causes of a sprained ankle.
Ankle sprains can occur at any age. Hence, youmust wear appropriate footwear while taking part in physical activities, such as fitness training, sports, etc. The following factors increase your risk of a sprained ankle.
Depending on the severity of the sprain, symptoms can vary. These include the following.
If you consult your doctor for a sprained ankle, they will perform a physical exam. This will help them understand whether there is a ligament tear or not.
They will also check for the range of motion of your ankle.
You may be asked to go for either an X-ray or MRI to rule out a fracture.
Depending on the severity of the sprain, your doctor may suggest any of the following options.
We will now take a look at how you can treat a sprained ankle at home.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
RICE is one of the first treatments suggested for an ankle sprain (1). It is a reasonably simple self-care method that can help reduce the pain and swelling (if any) associated with an ankle sprain.
The first step to recovery is to take as much rest as you can. Avoid straining the ankle for the first two days. Resting the foot can help prevent aggravating the sprain.
Icing the ankle helps in reducing the pain and swelling in your foot (2), (3). For this, you will need about 8-10 ice cubes or an ice pack. Apply the ice pack for 15-20 minutes on your ankle. Repeat this every 2-3 hours for the first two days to obtain the best results.
This step involves wrapping a bandage around your ankle. Tie an elastic bandage tightly enough to support your ankle but not so tight that it slows blood flow to your ankle (4), (5). This will help provide support to your ankle and prevent excessive movement of your foot.
In this step, you have to raise the affected part above the level of your heart. This is done to help reduce swelling and pain (6). Keep your foot on a cushion and keep it elevated for a while.
Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties (7). This can help in reducing the swelling and pain in the sprained ankle.
You can do this 2-3 times daily.
2-3 drops of chamomile oil
You can repeat this remedy 2-3 times daily.
Another way to treat an ankle sprain at home is to do a few basic exercises. These include:
(a) Range Of Motion: In this set of exercises (e.g., ankle alphabet), you will be able to increase the range of movement of your ankle gradually.
(b) Stretching: Stretching exercises (e.g., towel stretches) can help increase the extent to which your ankle can support a stretching action.
(c) Strengthening: Strengthen your ankle and the muscles around it after you have gained a better range of movement. You could use resistance bands for this.
(d) Balance And Control: Once you have regained your strength, it is time to build stability and control. For this, you will have to try to stand on your injured foot for 30 seconds at a time. Slowly, as you get better, you can increase the time to 1 minute at a time.
These were the ways in which you can treat a sprained ankle at home. We will now look at how you can prevent an ankle sprain.
These are a few helpful and effective methods to take care of your sprained ankle at home. But be mindful of the severity of the injury. Please consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for longer than 2-3 days or if there is significant swelling in your ankle.
Have you ever sprained your ankle? What did you do to deal with it? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.
When can I seek medical care?
If your symptoms last longer than 2-3 days, and if the swelling in your ankle does not reduce, you must seek medical help.
How do I wrap my ankle?
You can wrap your ankle with a brace or an over-the-counter elastic bandage that will help restrict excessive motion.
How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal?
A mild case of sprain takes about 5-10 days to heal entirely while more severe cases may take 4-6 weeks to heal.