Many of us will experience a sprained ankle at least once in our lives. For those of us lucky enough to experience a mild enough injury, this article presents 4 possible suggestions for how to heal a sprained ankle at home.
This injury can occur during many everyday activities ranging from slipping on an icy pavement to an awkward fall during a morning run. However, in many cases, the injury can be a mild one ( involving only stretching of ankle ligaments, but no tearing) that does not require intensive or specialized care. If your injury falls into this category, this article may be for you.
How Can I know If My Ankle Sprain Is Mild Enough That I Can Treat It At Home?
A mild ankle sprain will involve minor damage to one or two of the ligaments of the joint. The ligaments will be overstretched and may be slightly torn, but that will be all. If you are experiencing mild to moderate pain, swelling and stiffness around your ankle, your injury is likely a grade one (mild) ankle sprain. In such a case, you can consider using the home remedies below for treatment of your ankle sprain.
However, do be careful to ensure you can rule out a more serious grade 2 or grade 3 ankle sprain . These may come with additional symptoms, including ankle instability and difficulty placing weight on the ankle. If you are experiencing ankle instability, you can read about symptoms and possible treatments here.
Even more importantly, you need to make sure that your injury is actually a sprain and not a fracture. A fracture is a much more serious injury for which you should consult a doctor. Do not consider treating a serious sprain or injury at home.
Once you have confirmed that your injury is definitely a mild ankle sprain, you can consider our suggested home remedies below.
How To Heal A Sprained Ankle At Home
We have suggested one remedy for each of the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) strategies generally recommended for soft tissue injuries of the ankle or other joints.
One of the keys to healing your mild ankle sprain at home is to allow it to rest. Stay off your feet as much as possible. Where possible, use crutches or even a wheel chair to move around for a few days. By doing this, you are allowing that slightly damaged ligament to heal naturally.
Use a cold treatments such as an ice pack or cold compress on your ankle. A simple cold treatment based home remedy for a sprained ankle is to immerse it in a bucket of icy water every 3 hours or so during the day. You can also try placing crushed ice in a plastic bag, wrapping the bag in a towel and then placing the bag and towel over the painful area of your ankle.
Avoid placing the plastic bag with ice directly on your skin. If you do this, the extremely cold temperature of the naked plastic bag can cause skin damage.
If you have a health condition that causes decreased sensation in your feet (e.g. diabetes or vascular damage) consult your doctor before trying this remedy.
Wrap your in an elastic bandage to give it the compression that will help speed healing at home. Try to wear the bandage as much as possible for at least 2-3 days after you have sustained the injury. For a completely home based remedy for your ankle sprain, try wrapping your ankle tightly in a towel. Wear this “bandage” for 2-3 days after you receive the injury.
A tip – begin wrapping the towel or bandage at the end furthest from your heart. Compression will help to prevent fluid build up and swelling in the region of the injury. It will also help to speed recovery.
The fourth home based remedy for your ankle sprain is to keep the ankle elevated (relative to your heart) whenever possible. If you are seated, try to place your ankle on a desk or chair in front of you. If you are lying down, place your ankle on a cushion of pillow. As with compression, this will help drain excess fluid away from your ankle and reduce fluid build up and swelling there.