How to Care for a Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle is a common type of injury that occurs if your ankle suddenly rolls in or out, causing the ankle joint to move out of place. There are two types of ankle sprains: inward and outward. Inward sprains are known as an eversion sprain and impact the ligaments and tendons on the inner ankle that help to support your foot arch. On the other hand, an inversion sprain occurs when your ankle rolls outwards and affects the outer ligaments of the ankle. If you think you may have sprained your ankle, here’s what to do.

Get Medical Attention

It is worth getting your ankle checked by a professional to ensure it is sprained rather than broken, especially if you are experiencing a lot of pain. Urgent care is the best option for a sprain or broken bone, as the linked post explains. You should consider seeing a doctor if you have sprained your ankle and are experiencing symptoms such as extreme pain, severe swelling, an odd shape, a limited range of motion, or if you are unable to walk for more than a few steps. 

RICE Method

A mild ankle sprain is usually easy to treat at home with the RICE method, which involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The RICE method, which highlights the importance of protecting your ankle while following the RICE steps, is recommended for this kind of injury. Make sure to protect the injured area and keep it as still as possible immediately after the injury, ideally for around a day or two to help it heal faster. Apply an ice pack to your ankle for around fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, every 2-3 hours, for the first two to three days, and apply a compression bandage to the area to decrease swelling. You can also elevate your foot above your waist or heart level to reduce the swelling further. 

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

In the first forty-eight hours after spraining your ankle, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be effective. You may consider taking pills such as ibuprofen or naproxen or get a topical cream or gel that you can apply directly to the swollen, sprained ankle for some relief of your symptoms. A topical gel or cream can be an ideal option to consider if NSAID pills give you side effects like an upset stomach, and they can be just as effective. 

Gentle Exercise

Some studies have found that after using the RICE method for the first few days, some gentle exercise can help you get on a faster road to recovery. Conduct exercises that strengthen the muscles in the ankle and calf, which can improve stability and balance and reduce the risk of further injury to your ankle. You should immediately stop any exercise that seems to make your symptoms worse. 

A sprained ankle can easily happen to anybody, from playing sports, losing your balance, falling over, and other accidents. The good news is that with the right strategies, you can heal the injury quickly and start to feel like yourself again.

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