A twisted ankle, or sprained ankle, is caused by an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle. Mild sprains may irritate or overstretch the ligaments, while severe sprains may cause the ligaments to tear completely.
Ankle sprains are a common orthopedic injury, particularly among people who play sports, but it also happens a lot among those with sedentary lifestyles. Having a twisted ankle is painful, and it can require months of recovery.
To diagnose a twisted ankle, a doctor may order X-rays to confirm that a bone has not been broken. Once treated by a doctor, a person with a twisted ankle must wait for full recovery before returning to the normal range of movement. In the meantime, splints or casts can be used to keep the joint better immobilized for some time. If walking on the ankle is really painful, crutches may be used.
A person can do these home remedies to alleviate pain and swelling:
The acronym RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Doctors often recommend these tactics to reduce swelling and inflammation in the days after her injury.
You need to get adequate rest after any injury. Avoid walking on the affected foot. Once you have recuperated, speak with your doctor about the best time to get back on your feet. Resting your ankle is essential for healing and recovery, and wearing a brace can help stabilize the injured area. Returning to sports or other activities immediately increases the risk of another injury.
Using an ice pack can reduce blood flow to the injury and help ease pain and swelling. Apply ice packs right after a sprain to reduce swelling. The process of applying cold compresses to injury is proven to speed up the healing process. Leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, up to four times a day. But remember to only ice the ankle to the extent it’s necessary to prevent getting frostbite. If cold is becoming too painful to bear before that threshold, only ice as long as you’re comfortable.
Regular compression is necessary for your recovery. The use of wrap-around elastic bandages helps stabilize the joint and reduce swelling and pain. Wrap a bandage around the injured ankle to put some pressure on it. But be careful not to keep it so tight that it digs into the skin, causing additional pain or numbness.
Along with rest, ice and compression, another simple home remedy is to elevate the ankles. Whenever you’re lying down or sitting, prop up the injured ankle so that it’s resting above the waist or heart. When the ankle is raised, the greater the chances of swelling going down. Elevating the ankles also prevents unwanted fluid buildup around the injury. This step is crucial for 48 hours after getting the sprain. So, when you’re sleeping, prop up the foot and ankle on a pile of pillows at a level higher than the heart.
Heat increases blood flow to the injury, which can help speed up healing. Heat can also help relax tight muscles and ease pain and tension. However, if the ankle is still swollen, ice is the way to go, as heat can increase inflammation and slow the healing of swollen ankles. Only use heat therapy once the swelling goes down. Apply heat packs for 15-20 minutes at a time.
For some people, alternating heat and ice packs give them relief. But only try this after the swelling is gone and not immediately after getting injured.
An ankle injury puts nearby muscles at risk of damage, especially if the tissues have become weak from disuse. Stretching the area keeps the muscles strong and limber. It also helps blood circulation, which can help the ankle heal faster.
Once you feel that your ankle is recovering, gently stretch it by moving it in all directions at least thrice a day. Try flexing the foot forward, backward, then rolling it clockwise, then counterclockwise. But make sure to avoid overextending the ankle or moving it in a direction that hurts, for it may cause more damage to your injury.
The pain and swelling that immediately follows an ankle sprain can be severe. This can make it impossible for a person to put on weight on the joint. It’s also especially impossible to walk with that joint. But when the swelling goes down, you have to walk with the twisted ankle to promote healing. Start by walking short distances inside your house, then gradually walk longer distances as the ankle starts to heal.
If you need to hold the injured ankle in an unusual position or twist the body so you can walk with the foot, wait for one to two days before trying this out. If your ankle sprain caused you to need crutches, it’s not a reason for you not to try walking to exercise your joint.
Exercise can help restore strength and balance while preventing the muscles around the ankle from weakening. This can also reduce the risk of getting sprained again. Once the swelling goes down and walking becomes comfortable, exercise your ankle.
Perform these ankle exercises for 10-15 minutes every other day:
- Stand on a low step with your heels hanging backward over the edge. Drop the heels slightly, and hold for a few seconds. Then, elevate the heels above the toes. Repeat exercise gently and don’t do this on the top or a high point of your stairs to avoid accidents.
- Balance on one foot for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides. This will help your sprained ankle gain equal strength with the other joint.
- Using an elastic exercise band, loop under the foot for gentle resistance. Move the ankle clockwise, then counterclockwise.
- Trace the alphabet with your toe. This will promote ankle movement in all directions.
- Sit on a chair while keeping the foot of the affected leg flat on the floor. Move your knee from side to side while keeping the foot flat on the floor. Do this for two to three minutes.
- Play catch with your dog while balancing on one leg, then the other.
- Place your hands flat on a wall and position the injured leg behind you. This will help stretch your calf. Straighten the leg and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat it two to four times.
Massage can promote blood flow to the sprained area while easing pain. For less severe injuries, you can try to gently massage your ankles at home. Some prefer to massage around or just above the ankle, while some people massage the bottom of the heel or foot.
If the injury is painful or severe, seek help from a qualified massage therapist. Stop massaging the area if it only worsens the pain and symptoms.
Epsom salt bath
An Epsom salt bath can soothe sore muscles and connective tissues and ease joint stiffness. After a few days from your injury, soak your ankle in a warm Epsom salt bath one to two times a day.