What is an ankle sprain? It can be as simple as rolling your ankle inward on a step, or getting your foot caught in a hole. Either way, what happens when you sprain your ankle? The ligaments in your ankle get stretched too far, or torn. A sprained ankle is also known as a twisted ankle — there is no difference here. As you can see, sprained ankles can happen fairly easily. Do you always need to head to an urgent care clinic for a sprain?
Here’s what you can do for in-home recovery.
First, RICE. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For an ankle sprain, this is especially important because we do everything on our feet; it’s hard to treat a sprain and keep moving. However, if you keep moving on it, you will only make things worse. Sprains hurt, and if you don’t take the time to properly rest, you won’t be able to fully heal. Ice and Compression are a two-step process — cold compression (ie, keeping an ice pack over your ankle) will eliminate swelling and help the pain go down. Elevation continues in this vein; if you keep your ankle properly propped up, you’ll decrease blood flow to the foot, which in turn will help with the healing process. It sounds complex, but really, all you have to do to fulfill RICE is lie down with your ankle propped up, with an ice pack on your ankle. Anyone can do that, right?
The second step is to take it slow. Depending on the severity of your sprain, you could be bouncing back in as little as twelve hours or as long as a couple of days. And even if you feel fine at first, it’s important to add the activity back into your life slowly. If you decide to do a 13-hour day on a just recovered ankle, you’ll find yourself back in bed the next day. Increase slowly; your ankle helps support you in everything you do, so even a minimal work day for you can be a lot like maximum pressure on your feet. If it’s truly impossible to avoid moving around, then make sure you take time to do some RICE every day.
Thirdly, listening to your body is the key. If it hurts, take some over-the-counter painkillers, and if you’re experiencing severe pain still, go to urgent care. If it’s just tender to the touch, or slightly swollen, it’s likely something you can handle at home. It’s easy to sprain an ankle, but as long as you know what to do, it’s very easy to take care of it. You know your body best, after all.