How To Manage Your Ankle Sprain At Home

What is an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. The majority of sprains are low ankle sprains. This is what we will be discussing in this article. The common ankle sprain is usually caused by an inversion injury to the foot; this is when your foot rolls in causing a stretching or tearing injury of the ligaments on the outside(lateral) portion of the ankle. The symptoms of most mild ankle sprains resolve over several weeks and don’t always require management by a doctor. More severe ankle sprains should be managed by a doctor as they can be associated with other injuries involving the bones, muscles, and tendons, and additional imaging or treatment may be necessary. Rarely, ankle sprains may require surgical management.

How to initially treat an ankle sprain.

Initially following an ankle sprain you should follow the RICE principle. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This will help manage your pain and swelling. You can also take medicines such as Tylenol to help with pain or NSAIDS(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen to help with pain and swelling. If your symptoms are severe or you are still unable to bear weight or walk on the injured ankle after a few days, you should see a doctor. You may need to have the ankle immobilized with a brace, walking boot, or cast.

How to rehab an ankle sprain.

Though a sprained ankle may sometimes require immobilization for several days early on, you will recover faster if you can start moving the ankle and doing some type of rehab as soon as possible. For this reason, we recommend beginning gentle range of motion exercises as soon as your pain allows. As your symptoms improve you should work through rehab exercises focused on range of motion, strength, and proprioception. Proprioception is the ability of your brain to recognize where your joint is in space, and is an important part of ankle rehab that should not be neglected. Similarly, strengthening the peroneal tendons(the tendons that help turn your foot out) is important for returning to full function and decreasing risk of recurrent ankle sprains. There are plenty of good ankle rehab resources on the internet, but don’t hesitate to see a sports medicine specialist if you have any concerns. Again, if your symptoms are severe, persist, or do not seem to be improving as a typical ankle sprain should, then you should see a doctor. Your local sports medicine physician, orthopedist, or physical therapist can also help guide you through how to do ankle sprain rehab exercises.

Keys to treating your ankle sprain at home!

Here are some keys to take away: Treat ankle sprains early on with RICE(rest, ice, compression, elevation). For severe symptoms or symptoms that don’t seem typical, see a doctor. Get moving with ankle rehab exercises as soon as you can for the best and fastest recovery.

Deborah Renelus, MD

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