I Sprained My Ankle. Now What?

It happened. You were walking along your favorite hiking trail when you suddenly twisted your ankle on the uneven pathway. Sprained ankles can happen so quickly and for a variety of reasons. The question is, what should you do about it now? If you want to get back on your feet and return to your normal everyday life, you’ll have to slow down for a little bit first and take care of your sprained ankle properly. Here’s what you need to know about recovering from a sprained ankle:

What Happens When an Ankle is Sprained?

A sprained ankle is the result of your ankle rolling out of place suddenly. This common type of injury can cause the ligaments surrounding your ankle to overstretch or even tear, resulting in pain and swelling.

How Long Will My Ankle Hurt?

It really depends on how severe the injury is, and recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Mild Sprain

A mild sprain, which includes swelling, soreness, and trouble maintaining your balance, will typically take about 2 weeks for the ligament to heal.

Moderate Sprain

If you have a moderate sprain and are experiencing considerable pain, swelling and bruising, and difficulty walking, your ligament may be partially torn. This means it should take about 6-8 weeks for you to heal completely.

Severe Sprain

Should you experience a severe sprain, your ligament may have fully torn, and you may have severe pain, significant swelling or bruising, and the inability to walk without a crutch or immobility boot. This type of injury will unfortunately take about 3 months to heal, at least.

Is There Any Way I Can Speed Up the Healing Process?

Just like with recovery time, your treatment will largely depend on the severity of the sprain. Overall, following these steps will help expedite your healing:

RICE – This tried-and-true method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help you feel better faster. Rest as much as you can, wrap your injured ankle snugly in a compression bandage, and elevate it above your heart as much as possible. As for ice, we recommend using an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours, especially within the first 3 days of the injury.

Professional Assessment – Your podiatrist or physical therapist can take a look at your injury and help you figure out the proper steps to take to help you heal.

Range of Motion Exercises – It’s important to maintain your mobility as much as possible while you recuperate. You may be given exercises and stretches to help maintain and increase your range of motion in order to combat stiffness and strengthen your ankle and foot.

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you have a mild injury, you can most likely recover at home without any assistance. However, if you experience the following, you should make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist:

  • Severe swelling
  • Extreme or persistent pain
  • Odd shape to the ankle
  • Limited range of motion
  • Inability to walk without assistance

How Can I Take Care of My Ankles in the Long Term?

Sprained ankles aren’t forever, and there are many steps you can take to help you protect and strengthen them to avoid future injury. Stretching your ankles, feet, and legs frequently, especially before and after exercising, is critical for podiatric health. Wear well-fitting shoes and avoid wearing footwear that makes your ankles unstable (high heels, flip-flops, ballet flats, etc.). Finally, continuing ankle-strengthening exercises will also help you prevent injury.

Suffering from a sprained ankle? Experiencing a painful podiatric issue? Call the friendly, knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center at (314) 487-9300! We will give you the right diagnosis and help you get back on your feet in no time.