The ankle is the most commonly sprained area of the body. The injury occurs when a ligament is stretched or even torn, typically resulting from twisting it. Following a sprain, you may experience pain, swelling, bruising, and an inability to put weight on the ankle. If the ligaments above the joint (syndesmosis ligaments) are injured, this is considered a high ankle sprain, which may lead to a longer recovery period. Our foot and ankle specialist Dr. Tuvi Mendel can diagnose your sprain and recommend the best treatment options to get you on the road to recovery.
You may need to use crutches as walking may be hard to do due to the swelling and pain. Swelling and pain of the ankle will usually last 2 to 3 days, depending on the grade of ankle sprain. Other forms of treatment may be prescribed by your surgeon such as air splints or cast boots. In most cases, ankle sprain only need approximately 4 to 6 weeks to heal. You may be told to continue to use motion with your ankle, as this usually prevents stiffness during the healing process. Immobilization is key in the healing process. Anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to control inflammation and pain. The most common types of sprains are Grade 1 and Grade 2, both of which will typically heal with using the RICE guidelines:
- Rest your ankle by refraining from walking on it.
- Ice should be applied immediately as It keeps the swelling down. Typical timeframe for icing is anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes three times a day or as needed. Wrapping with an ace bandage and combing it with the icing helps decrease pain and swelling.
- Compression bandages or ace-bandages or wraps help support and immobilize the ankle.
- Elevate your ankle above your heart level for the first 48 hours.
It is important to treat ankle sprains with the necessary attention as unrecognized sprains can lead to chronic problems of instability.