Best Way to Treat a Sprained Ankle
It’s so easy to sprain an ankle – by turning, rolling or bending the joint beyond its normal limit. We’ve all done it. Stepping off a curb awkwardly. Walking down the stairs. Playing sports. Sprained ankles are a common injury, but they can be quite painful depending on the severity of the sprain. When the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together either stretch or tear from an awkward movement, it can cause you severe discomfort.
But you can take measures to treat a sprained ankle on your own, as long as the sprain isn’t too severe. Here are some basic tips for recovering from an ankle sprain with the least amount of pain in the shortest amount of time.
The R.I.C.E. method
Ice. The injured ankle also needs to be iced often with an ice pack. Ice it for 15 minutes immediately after the injury, with 20 minute breaks between icings while you’re awake for the first 72 hours after the injury. Icing your injury not only makes it feel better, but it also decreases swelling, inflammation and any internal bleeding.
Compression. Wrapping the sprained ankle with a bandage can also help minimize swelling. Don’t wrap the ankle so tight that it cuts off the circulation, and loosen the bandage if your ankle starts hurting more or the ankle area starts going numb.
Elevation. Use gravity to your advantage and elevate your ankle above your heart. This helps drain extra fluid out of your ankle and reduce the swelling.
If you think your ankle has suffered an especially bad sprain, you should seek medical attention. A sprain that’s severe enough might cause a doctor to prescribe a pain killer to make you more comfortable and to help with the swelling.
Often doctors will refer patients to a physical therapist several days after the injury. A physical therapist can help you strengthen the injured ankle, focusing primarily on helping you regain your ability to balance on your foot. In rare cases an ankle joint can remain unstable even after physical therapy. In such a case, a doctor might recommend surgery to repair damage done to the joint.