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How do you treat a sprained ankle?

Last update: 13 March 2021

How do you treat a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is a widespread injury and most people will be affected by it at some point in their lives.

The majority of ankle sprains are mild, thus they can usually be treated in the comfort of your own home.

Here is how you do this.

Distinguish between sprain types

For starters, you must be able to identify the severity of the sprain in order to effectively relieve a sprained ankle. 

In general, a sprain can be divided into three categories: mild sprain, moderate sprain, and severe sprain.

Mild sprain (strain): the strain is the least sudden type of sprain. It is usually mild and can be treated at home. It involves stretching the ligament fibers but not tearing them.

Moderate sprain: in this case, the ligament fibers in the ankle suffer a partial tear. A moderate sprain takes a few days or even weeks to heal.

Severe sprain: this sprain occurs when the ankle suffers a sudden and violent twisting. In this case, the ligament is totally torn. The surrounding nerves and cartilage can also end up being affected.

If you experience difficulty walking or a foot that won’t deflate, it could indicate a more severe sprain that requires treatment at a podiatry clinic.

Prioritize rest

If the injury is recent, avoid putting as much weight on the foot as possible, especially if the sprain occurred during athletic activity.

This will help protect the joint from further damage.

Once you get home, you should make sure to take it easy on the affected foot and use crutches if needed, even if the sprain seems mild.

Otherwise, the following tools can help protect your ankle:

Apply cold and hot treatments to the ankle

For the first 48 hours after the injury, you can help reduce the sprain’s inflammation and swelling by applying a cold compress.

After 2 days, if the ice manages to curb the swelling in the foot but it still appears inflamed, consider switching to heat.

This should be applied 4 times a day for a maximum of 30 minutes.

If cold and heat do not relieve the symptoms, it may be worth contacting a doctor when:

  • The pain persists or gets worse;
  • You notice a loss of mobility in the ankle;
  • Your sleep is affected by the pain and does not bring relief;
  • You suffer from muscle cramps.

Elevate the foot and apply compression 

Compressing and elevating the injured foot can help you reduce the degree of swelling in the foot.

You can effectively compress your ankle with a bandage in just 6 steps:

  • Equip yourself with an elastic bandage and a medicine needle;
  • Place the end of the bandage under the toes of the sprained foot;
  • Wrap the bandage around the foot in the direction of the heel and without wrinkling;
  • Near the heel, make “8”-shaped loops to cover the entire ankle;
  • Finish the bandage by wrapping the elastic band over the joint a few times;
  • Secure the bandage with the needle.

You can then place the swollen foot on a slightly elevated chair. 

The podiatrist is your first choice for relieving a sprained ankle

Any of the techniques above are an effective way to treat a mild sprain.

However, if you suffer from a moderate or severe ankle sprain, it is crucial to seek help from a medical professional, namely – a podiatrist.

This professional can determine the severity of your injury and offer appropriate treatments such as ultrasound or therapeutic laser, or prescribe foot orthoses if you have chronic ankle instability.

Do you think you have suffered a sprained ankle? Don’t wait until it gets worse, consult a podiatrist associated with PiedReseau.

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