Ankle sprains are very common, with about 2 million sprains happening every year in the United States. While many sprains happen to athletes, anyone can sprain their ankle — even people who lead relatively sedentary lives.
Ankle sprains happen when the ligaments that support your ankle are stretched beyond their normal limits, sometimes so far that they tear. As many as 70% of people who have a sprain will continue to have symptoms afterward, with some developing a condition called chronic ankle instability that makes you more prone to future injuries.
While you can’t always avoid an ankle sprain, there are important things you can do to ensure your ankle heals after your injury. Paying attention to your recovery could help you avoid chronic ankle instability and other issues in the future.
At Apple Podiatry Group, Jarna Rathod-Bhatt, DPM, and Rahul Bhatt, DPM, use a variety of therapies for ankle sprains at their offices in Arlington, Irving, Fort Worth, and Flower Mound, Texas. Every therapy is tailored to the individual patient’s medical history, lifestyle, and other factors that could have an impact on healing. In this post, we share some tips that can help you in your recovery.
Seek medical care
The first thing you should do if you suspect a sprain is to schedule an office visit so we can confirm that diagnosis. Sprains share symptoms with other medical problems, and it’s important to make sure you have a sprain before trying any type of therapy or treatment.
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, and it’s a great way to relieve the pain and inflammation that accompany a sprain. Rest is especially important, since it gives tissues a chance to heal. Compression and elevation are both important for reducing swelling that can cause pain and limit mobility, while ice numbs the area for temporary pain relief.
Once swelling has subsided, you can try applying some gentle heat to the area. Heat increases circulation for better healing, and it can help relax sore muscles, too.
Avoid bearing weight
Staying off your ankle as much as you can is important, but if you must get around, you might want to consider using crutches. Using crutches isn’t difficult, but if you haven’t used them before, take some time to get used to them before you go out and about.
Try gentle stretches
Even though a sprain involves your ligaments directly, your muscles and tendons can be affected, too. A little gentle stretching relieves stiffness and promotes healing circulation, while improving flexibility that could help prevent future sprains.
Take anti-inflammatory medicine
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) help relieve inflammation and swelling that accompany sprains. Reducing inflammation may also promote speedier healing.
Massage helps improve circulation to your ankle, which, in turn, promotes optimal healing and tissue recovery. While your ankle might be too sore for direct massage, you might find comfort from massaging your heel or the sole of your foot.
Keep your ankles healthy
Even though it may be tempting to treat an ankle sprain with home remedies and TLC, it’s very important to have a medical evaluation to make sure you really have a sprain and to determine its severity. Going ahead with any DIY treatments could lead to more serious problems, including chronic ankle instability.
If you think you've sprained an ankle, call the office or request an appointment online with the team at Apple Podiatry Group today.