If you roll your ankle in your backyard or your child sprains their ankle during soccer practice, you may be wondering if you can manage the issue at home instead of heading to the emergency room or a provider of your choosing. Dr. McDonald and his team would love to help you overcome a severe sprain or lingering ankle discomfort that you’re experiencing, but we also want to help give you the tools to manage mild injuries on your own so that you don’t incur additional medical expenses. With that in mind, we wanted to share some tips for managing ankle sprains on your own.

Caring For A Sprained Ankle At Home

The statistics suggest that roughly 25,000 Americans sprain their ankle every single day, and all of these sprains vary in severity. Some require immediate attention, while others can be managed with a few simple conservative treatments and some smart lifestyle adjustments. Here’s how we recommend treating mild ankle sprains, but as always, if you have questions or concerns, your best option is to connect with a foot and ankle specialist who can view your ankle in person.

  1. Rest – Short-term rest is one of the best things you can do for your injured ankle. While rest alone will not get you back to a pre-injury level of fitness, it does help to protect the area from additional strain while the ankle is in a weakened state. One of the biggest threats to your ankle following a sprain is additional ligament damage because you continued to go about your day as if nothing happened. Give yourself a few days of rest from strenuous activities like athletics or weight-bearing exercise so that the healing process can get off to a great start.
  2. Elevate – When you’re resting, it’s also helpful to elevate your leg above your heart. After a sprain, an inflammatory response will be triggered, and that will lead to swelling in the area of injury. This swelling helps to limit movement and protect the area, but it can also delay healing because it can impede healthy blood flow to and away from the area. If you’re already being mindful to protect the area, elevating your foot will help to draw fluid away from the ankle, limiting swelling and expediting healing.
  3. Ice – Icing the area provides a similar effect. Icing will constrict blood vessels, limiting the inflammatory response and working to control swelling, which as we talked about above, can help to speed up the healing process.
  4. Anti-Inflammatories – Similarly, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help to control inflammation after an injury like a sprain. Be sure to follow the dosing recommendations based on age and weight charts, and never take more than advised.
  5. Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is one of the best things you can do for your ankle after a sprain of any severity. During a sprain, the ligaments on either side of your ankle are damaged, and these ligaments play an important role in supporting and stabilizing your ankle. If you don’t help these ligaments get back to a pre-injury level of strength, you’re going to be at an elevated risk for additional sprains. You don’t need to necessarily connect with a physical therapist, but you should consider Googling some simple PT exercises after a sprained ankle. Oftentimes techniques like sitting in a chair and drawing each letter of the alphabet with your foot, or standing on the one injured leg and slowly bending over to pick up an object off the floor can help you regain strength, range of motion and function in your injured ankle. Rest alone may help provide some pain control, but it’s physical therapy that will help get you back to full strength after a sprain.

If you do all of the above tips and gradually work your way back to normal activities, we’re confident that you’ll have a good chance of helping your sprained ankle heal. And of course, if your sprain is more complex or you’re having trouble overcoming it on your own, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today for some personal attention! Give our office a call today at (860) 244-8889.

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