Sprained ankle: most of us have experienced a sprain’s sudden or unbearable pain. From athletes to accidental trips and falls, it can happen to anyone and range from mild to severe, and the severity of the injury can affect the treatment and recovery time.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide on identifying and treating sprained ankles or ankle injuries using first aid methods. It will also cover the recovery time for this injury and provide information on when to seek medical care.

sprained ankle

Identifying Sprained Ankle Symptoms

According to a 2019 research review, approximately 2 million acute ankle injuries occur annually in the U.S. It can be identified by a combination of symptoms, including:

  • Pain or tenderness in the ankle

  • Swelling or bruising around the ankle

  • Difficulty moving the ankle or putting weight on the ankle

  • Stiffness or soreness in the ankle joint

  • A popping or snapping sound at the time of the injury

If you experience any of these symptoms, treating the sprain promptly to reduce pain and swelling and prevent further damage to the ankle is essential. Sometimes, an X-ray may be necessary to rule out a fracture or other injuries.

How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

If you have an ankle injury, immediate first aid is crucial to reduce swelling and pain and prevent further damage. Here are some ways to treat this at home:

  1. Rest: Rest is essential for healing. Limit weight-bearing activity as much as possible and avoid any actions that cause pain.

  2. Ice: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours for the first few days after the injury. It will help reduce swelling and pain.

  3. Compression: Wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage to help control swelling. An ankle brace for sprain can provide additional support and stability to the injured area, which can help prevent further damage and promote healing.

  4. Elevation: Raise your foot above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling. It is most easily done by lying down and placing pillows under your foot.

  5. Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce pain and swelling.

The first four steps form the acronym R.I.C.E: the best practice for treating all muscular or soft tissue injuries. The fundamental goal is to relieve swelling and reduce inflammation in the affected area. 

In addition to these self-care measures, a healthcare professional may recommend additional treatment for a sprained ankle, such as physical therapy or bracing.

Note: If you suspect a fracture or a more severe injury, seek medical attention immediately. A healthcare professional can assess the injury and provide the appropriate treatment.

sprained ankle

How long does it take for this injury to heal?

The time it takes for an ankle to heal can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Most mild to moderate sprains will start to feel better within a few days to a week, while more severe sprains can take several weeks or months to heal completely. 

Here is a breakdown of the approximate healing time for each type of ankle sprain:

  • Grade 1: 2 to 4 weeks

  • Grade 2: 4 to 6 weeks

  • Grade 3: 6 to 12 weeks

Note: These are approximate healing times and may vary from person to person. Following the treatment plan a medical professional prescribes is essential to ensure a full and speedy recovery.

During the healing period, the following tips may help speed up recovery:

  • Rest and avoid any strenuous activity that puts pressure on the ankle.

  • Ice the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, multiple times daily.

  • Wear an ankle brace for sprain to reduce swelling and support the ankle.

  • Elevate the ankle above the heart level to reduce swelling and promote blood flow.

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce pain and swelling.

Contact Foot and Ankle Centers for Urgent Ankle Injury Treatment

There are many misconceptions surrounding foot and ankle injuries. However, proper treatment and care for foot and ankle injuries are crucial for a full recovery and to prevent long-term complications.

If you have experienced an ankle injury, taking proper care of it is important to ensure a full recovery. Always seek medical attention if you suspect a fracture or if your symptoms worsen.

At Foot and Ankle Centers, we specialize in treating sprained ankle and other foot and ankle injuries. Our experienced podiatrists can provide the care and guidance you need to ensure a successful recovery.

If you have any questions or concerns, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. We are committed to helping you get back on your feet!