Ankle sprain is quite a common injury that affects people at one or the other time in their lives. It can happen due to turning of your ankle while climbing stairs, injury to ankle when playing sports, or just a simple twisting of ankle on uneven ground. Whatever be the cause of your ankle sprain, it can be easily treated even at home. You may respond to treatment within the first two weeks, though sometimes the pain and instability can persist for months to a year or more.
The treatment for ankle sprain used to be summarized by the acronym RICE, with the letters of the acronym standing for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. RICE regimen helps by reducing the fluid and blood flow to the ankle. Nowadays, it has been replaced by the so-called PRINCE treatment or approach, the letters of the acronym standing for protection, rest, ice, NSAIDs or acetaminophen (analgesics), compression, and elevation.
Once the sprain has been overcome, you may need to do rehabilitative exercises to strengthen the ankle. Surgery is indicated only if ankle sprain is accompanied by torn ligaments not responding to this treatment.
7 Effective Ways To Treat Ankle Sprain
Wear an elastic compression bandage on the ankle for the first 2-3 days. This will reduce the inflammation. Watch out for warning signs that the bandage is too tight, such as numbness, tingling, coolness, increased pain, or swelling just below the bandaged part.
During the first 2-3 days you should wear a protective brace or splint to immobilize the ankle. This should preferably be one with some form of support to ankle, such as say built-in air cushion. If need be use a cane or crutches to take the weight off the ankle. Do not neglect this aspect of the treatment as surprisingly a lot of people are prone to doing.
Even if you are taking the above protective measures, it is best not to stress the ankle. So follow a daily routine that gives ample rest to the affected ankle. If possible, rest for a few days without frequent mobility. Rest gives the body enough time to deploy its natural restorative mechanisms into action.
Even if you plan on seeing a doctor, using ice on the sprained ankle helps. It prevents inflammation of the ligaments and also bleeding from a torn ligament, if any. Apply the ice pack (plastic bag filled with ice) on the affected ankle. Keep moving the ice pack over the entire area. This should be done for not more than 15-20 minutes at a time.
Give a gap of at least 30-45 minutes between two consecutive applications. This can be repeated 3-5 times every day for the first 2-3 days. Alternatively, you could immerse your ankle in ice water contained in a bucket, but make sure your ankle and foot do not turn pale, and remove the ankle immediately from the ice water if that happens. If you have circulation problems or diabetes, consult a doctor before applying an ice pack.
Keep the affected ankle raised above the level of the heart for 2-3 hours daily. This will decrease the bruising and swelling. Sleep with a few pillows below the ankle.
NSAIDs Or Acetaminophen
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are over-the-counter analgesics (pain relievers), such as naproxen or ibuprofen. These decrease the symptoms of inflammation, such as swelling and pain. Alternatively, you could take acetaminophen. Consult the product label or insert for the correct dosage.
Once you have recovered from the symptoms, you need to do some ankle exercises to strengthen the ankle. Range-of-motion exercises can be done, where you move the ankle joint gently in all the directions that it is capable of moving. Balancing exercises can be done on a wobble board. Muscles surrounding the ankle can be strengthened by standing on toes, walking on toes, and by doing step-ups.