Around 60% of foot injuries are ankle sprains and strains.
Minor injuries are treatable at home as long as the swelling and discoloration fade away.
Is your sprained ankle still swollen? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about ankle sprain causes and how to treat your injury.
Sprained Ankle Causes
Sprained ankles occur for many reasons. You’ll most likely suffer an injury if you play sports, especially in an inside court, wear ill-fitting shoes, and have balance problems.
Another major cause is having weak or stiff ankles because of a previous injury or stepping on an uneven surface so be mindful where you’re going.
Measuring the Sprained Ankle’s Severity
A sprained ankle is when one of the ligaments that keep your ankle in place is overstretched or torn.
Before we jump into sprained ankle remedies, it’s important to understand the different grades of pain so you know what action to take.
Consider these, for example:
Mild (Grade 1)
In this phase, your ligaments are stretched but they’re not torn. As a result, you’ll have some pain and stiffness but your ankle feels stable. The ankle injury should subside in a few days.
Moderate (Grade 2)
A moderate strain is where one or more ligaments have been partially torn. This means you experience pain, swelling, and bruising.
Further, it’s difficult to put weight on your ankle as the joint isn’t totally stable.
Severe (Grade 3)
In the severe phase, one or more ligaments are completely torn and your ankle is unstable.
You’re in severe pain and your ankle is bruised and swollen. As a result, you can’t move your ankle or support any weight so you need time to recover.
Your Treatment Options
There are many ways of treating an ankle. It’s important to act quickly to avoid injury and follow the instructions below.
Like these, for example:
If you’re unsure how to treat a sprained ankle, know you must rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Resting your ankle is key for healing as it stops you from putting pressure on the inflamed tissue.
Consider wearing a brace to stabilize the area and don’t return to physical activities too quickly as it’ll cause additional damage.
Ice reduces pain and inflammation, making it an important treatment. Put an icepack on your ankle to decrease the bloodflow and soothe the swelling or redness.
Compression also reduces swelling. Wrap an elastic bandage around the injury and start from the farthest point from your heart. But don’t wrap too tight otherwise it’ll cut off the blood flow.
The elevation is where you keep your injured ankle as high as possible. This helps your body absorb extra fluid so prop your ankle so it’s higher than your heart. Stacked pillows or a footrest work great.
Heat increases blood flow to your injury which helps it heal. But don’t apply it immediately as it’ll slow down the healing process.
Only apply heat once the swelling goes down, and use a heat pack for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also alternate between heat and ice packs for further relief.
Physiotherapy is a lifesaver if you’re suffering from long-term pain or if you have a history of similar ankle injures.
Physiotherapists evaluate your ankle to identify weak muscles and check whether other issues are causing you pain or increasing the risk of injury.
With this information, the physiotherapist will produce a customized exercise plan so you heal faster.
They may suggest stretches to keep the nearby muscles strong and limber. Gently stretch the ankle by moving it in every direction three times a day. For instance, flex the foot forward, backward, roll it clockwise, and counterclockwise.
But never overexert your ankle and listen to the pain. Avoid forcing your ankle into a direction that hurts.
Once the swelling goes down, try walking to promote healing. Start with short distances then gradually lengthen them as your ankle heals.
If you have to force your ankle into an uncomfortable position or twist your body to avoid putting weight on the joint, wait two days before trying again.
When to See Your Doctor
Not sure when to see a doctor for a sprained ankle?
Most ankle sprains heal by elevation, ice, and over-the-counter medication. But if you can’t walk and there’s no improvement, call a doctor after five to six days or if your sprained ankle still hurts after 1 month.
You may have a bone fracture instead of a sprain, so it’s crucial to seek medical advice.
“How long for a sprained ankle to heal?” you ask. Recovery time depends on the severity of the injury. Mild cases will feel better in a few days and heal within six weeks.
The doctor may give you a brace or cast so your ankle stays still and give you crutches to help you walk. If you have a severe sprain, book a follow-up appointment two weeks later to make sure you’re healing well.
To ensure this doesn’t happen again, you can take preventative measures. For instance, ask a physiotherapist about strengthening exercises for your ankle.
Also, you should always wear the right shoes for the activity so, for example, wear high-top sneakers if you’re playing basketball. Or tape up an ankle for extra support if you regularly play sports.
Is Your Sprained Ankle Still Swollen?
Now you know the answer to: “is your sprained ankle still swollen?”
It’s important to rest, ice, compress, and elevate immediately after the injury. If there’s no improvement within seven days, contact a doctor so they can suggest physiotherapy and other treatments.
Be mindful of where you’re going, do ankle strenghtening exercises, and wear supportive shoes to prevent injury. Good luck!
If you need a physiotherapist for an injury, we’d love to help. Contact us here for more details.