How to Heal a Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle can happen to anyone. According to some estimates, at least 25,000 Americans suffer from a sprained ankle each day. It is usually caused by rolling, twisting, and turning your ankle past its normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve the outer ligaments. In extreme cases, these ligaments may tear. When you experience an injury, you may wonder how to heal a sprained ankle.

Home Treatment

When you suspect a sprained ankle, the first step towards healing is the RICE protocol:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Take these four simple steps to help alleviate pain and speed the healing process. You can also use an anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen.

Healing Time

The amount of time it will take to heal your sprained ankle depends upon the degree of the sprain.  There are three degrees of ankle sprains:

  • First degree (the ligaments have stretched but not torn) 1-2 weeks healing time
  • Second degree (partial tear of the ligament) 3-6 weeks
  • Third degree (torn ligaments) 8-12 months

The severity of your pain and swelling as well as your ability (or inability) to walk can help you determine which type of sprain you may have.

Seeking Professional Help

If your injury does not respond to home treatment and you experience any of the following:

  • Severe pain that cannot be controlled with an anti-inflammatory
  • Severe swelling
  • Inability to bear weight on the injured foot

Running Ankle SprainIt is time to seek professional help. Depending on the severity of the sprain you may be on crutches for a few days or put into a boot or a splint to restrain the movement of your ankle. After the resting period is over, you may be referred to a physical therapist for specific exercises to rehabilitate your ankle.

If you are experiencing severe pain or if the swelling and pain have persisted for more than one week, you should see a specialist. An X-ray will show if there is a stress fracture, and an MRI will show if you have any torn ligaments. If you have a complete tear, this will require surgery. If the ankle is still unstable, it may also require surgery to tighten everything back up. The Express Care Clinic and the specialists at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group can assess your injury and show you how to heal a sprained ankle.

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