A twisted or sprained ankle is caused by ligaments being stretched or torn. A twisted ankle is a common sports injury, but this injury may also occur as a result of tripping, falling, or stepping on an uneven surface. In most cases, the ankle rolls outwardly while the foot rolls in an inward direction. A person with a sprained ankle will experience swelling and pain. If these symptoms become severe, it’s best to seek treatment from one of our doctors at American Foot and Leg Specialists. In many instances, however, you can treat a twisted ankle at home using the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
The first step is to stay off of the ankle as much as possible while it heals. For the first 48 hours, try to keep walking to a minimum. If walking continues to be painful, you may want to use crutches to help keep weight off of the ankle. Sprains generally take around six weeks to heal. During this time period, avoid doing strenuous lower body exercises. Try focusing on upper body workouts instead.
Putting ice on your ankle will help reducing swelling and decrease inflammation in the ligaments. Be sure to put the ice in a plastic bag and then wrap it in a towel so that the cold temperature doesn’t injure your skin. A bag of frozen vegetables will also work. Apply the ice pack four to six times a day for a maximum of twenty minutes. Wait 60 minutes between applications. Do this daily for the first three days. If the swelling continues longer than that, you should see a doctor.
Wearing a bandage, air cast, or brace will help reduce swelling and keep the ankle stabilized while it heals. If you use an elastic bandage, wrap it tightly around the area but not so tightly that it cuts off circulation to your toes. Hiking boot or other high top shoes can also provide the ankle with added stability while it is healing.
For the first few days after the injury, keep your ankle propped up on a pillow above the level of your heart. This will cause fluid to drain and reduce swelling.
In addition to these steps, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. A few weeks after your injury, you’ll want to try to gently stretch your ankle. Performing stretches can help get your range of motion back to a normal level. This stretching may cause slight discomfort, but you shouldn’t experience severe pain from it. Even after all of the pain and swelling have disappeared, it’s best to take it easy on the ankle until the muscles and ligaments return to normal strength.