What are the Best Tips for Healing a Sprained Ankle?

Dan Cavallari

A sprained ankle can come about due to the ligaments in the ankle joint being twisted or stretched beyond their means, leading to slight tearing of the ligament fibers. Healing a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the sprain, and in most cases, Healing a sprained ankle starts with the RICE treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. These actions help reduce swelling and promote blood flow for quicker healing. The person with the ankle sprain will also need to keep weight off the ankle for several days or weeks, and pain medications can be taken when healing a sprained ankle.

A person with a sprained ankle.
A person with a sprained ankle.

The ligaments damaged from the injury will heal on their own given enough time and rest, so it is important to keep weight off the ankle and rest it sufficiently in the days and weeks after the injury. Healing a sprained ankle involves a significant amount of prevention: re-injuring the ligaments is very easy to do. By staying off the ankle and allowing it to rest, the injured person is not only promoting faster healing, but also preventing re-injury to the ligaments that can slow healing time or halt it altogether. Many people who suffer from a sprained ankle use crutches for several weeks after the injury to allow the ankle to heal while still remaining mobile enough to perform everyday tasks.

A man with a sprained ankle.
A man with a sprained ankle.

Icing should occur immediately following the injury, and then periodically after that. Swelling can happen quickly, so icing helps reduce the swelling, which in turn reduces pain. It is important to ice the affected area properly: placing ice directly against the skin is inadvisable, and keeping the ice on the injury for too long can actually slow the process of healing a sprained ankle. Be sure to ask a doctor's advice on icing the injury to prevent any slowing of healing.

A twisted ankle should not be used for several days.
A twisted ankle should not be used for several days.

Compression is achieved by wrapping the ankle with a bandage or brace. This stimulates blood flow to the ankle, which in turn promotes faster healing of the ankle. A bandage or brace can also add extra support to the weakened ligaments once healing has progressed to a point that weight can be placed on the ankle. Placing the bandage too tightly can inhibit blood flow, however, making the process of healing a sprained ankle more difficult. If the foot goes numb or begins to tingle, the bandage is far too tight and should be loosened immediately.

Healing a sprained ankle involves a significant amount of prevention.
Healing a sprained ankle involves a significant amount of prevention.
Many people with sprained ankles use crutches for a few weeks so the injury can heal properly.
Many people with sprained ankles use crutches for a few weeks so the injury can heal properly.

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Discussion Comments

Grivusangel

The first time I sprained my ankle, I was climbing a fence going after our cat, and landed in a little hole. My ankle twisted and there I was. Seems like I climbed back over the fence, though. A 13-year-old will do all sorts of things.

That was in the summer time, but only about 10 days before school started. I was good by then, but it did take several days before I could bear full weight on it. My mom was a lab technician in a doctor's office, so I went to the doctor and he wrapped my ankle. Beyond that, there wasn't much he could do for it.

Lostnfound

A sprain can hurt worse than a break, and usually does. As a veteran of four sprained ankles, I know they hurt! The only cure, really, is staying off the ankle as much as possible, and keeping ice on it.

The last time I sprained my ankle, I did it on a Monday. I went on to work because I had to, and then went to the ER because of the pain. By Friday, I could bear most of my weight on it, but it was still a struggle and really hurt if I turned it a certain way.

I'd rather have a sprained wrist. At least I don't have to put weight on my wrist, and I can do most things one-handed, so that works out pretty well.

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