Home Treatment for a Sprained Ankle and When to See a Doctor

Home Treatment for a Sprained Ankle

…and When to See a Doctor

Although it can be a sports injury, an ankle sprain often happens while walking on uneven surfaces. Usually, the foot twists inward and the outer area of the ankle is sprained. This causes pressure or possibly tearing of the outer ligaments that support the ankle joint.

sprained ankle

Little did I know, a little over two years ago, a sprained ankle could cause such lasting problems! I wish I could go back and do things differently. Unfortunately, my ankle still gives me a TON of problems and I still have to follow these tips on a regular basis! Here are some things I have learned along the way. I am not a doctor, these are just tips for you to try but always ask a medical professional.

For the First Two Days Following the Sprain

Lift the ankle and place an ice pack. Make sure that the leg is lifted straight in front of you on the couch, sofa or on a chair.

After 20 minutes, remove the ice pack. To further control swelling, and to support the ankle, use an elastic bandage. The ankle should be at a 90-degree angle to the foot, with a large pad of soft cloth over it, for example, a folded pillowcase, beneath the bandage. To test that it is not too tight, you should be able to place two fingers comfortably under the bandage. If toes feel numb or become blue, loosen the bandage.

Wait 40 minutes and replace the ice pack over the bandage for another 20 minutes. Use the ice pack for 20 minutes each hour until bedtime. Remove bandage before sleeping.
Raise the ankle above the level of your heart for 3 hours each day to decrease ankle swelling. Lie flat on the bed and place pillows beneath the calf so that the knee is bent and the lower leg is raised and level.

After the Second Day

Fill two large basins or buckets with water. One should be very cold and one hot, but no more than 39 degrees C. Into the hot water put 4 drops of Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil. (Avoid if pregnant.) Agitate the water and place the sprained ankle in hot water for 30 seconds and then in the cold for 30 seconds. Continue for 5 minutes twice a day for the next two days. Always end the water therapy with a cold water dip.

After drying the sprained ankle, gently spread a layer of aloe vera gel over it, before bandaging.

Try walking with a stick or with crutches.

One Week after the Ankle Sprain

Rotate and flex the foot gently for a few minutes during the day. You should be able to walk without crutches, but with an ankle guard or ankle brace. If the ankle continues to be painful or you cannot walk, contact your doctor.

It can take up to 6 weeks for a sprained ankle to heal completely. There are specific rehabilitation exercises which can help. 

When to consult a doctor

Trust your judgment. That is always the first step. Our bodies are good at telling us when something is really wrong. If you feel like it is getting worse or if you are in too much pain, consult a doctor. This will allow them to rule out a break, check for torn ligaments and tendons that will not heal on their own, and schedule you for physical therapy if needed.

Also, it is best to consult a doctor if the injury has happened at work, in an accident, or in any other environment where someone else’s insurance may be responsible. Visiting a doctor and being sure to talk to a manager or HR person at the location of the injury is very important for insurance purposes.

sprained ankle

This is my ankle over a year after the initial injury. Injuries don’t always go away with surgery or simple treatments.

Handling a personal injury that didn’t happen at home

No one likes the idea of suing anyone but claiming a personal injury with another’s insurance is different than suing. Most business’ and even schools have insurance policies that will pay for the medical bills if someone were to be injured while on their property. Even homeowners typically have coverage if there was ever an injury on their personal property. Sometimes, even when you do not want to “place blame” on someone else when it wasn’t their fault (it just happened at their home or business), filing on their insurance may be the best option. Your own personal insurance can decide to refuse payment for treatment, leaving you with big out of pocket medical bills.

If the injury happened because there were unsafe conditions such as slippery floors without a “wet floor sign”, an uneven piece of payment in a walkway, claiming on their insurance is even more important. If there are ongoing medical concerns, a lawyer, like KFB Law, who handles personal injury claims may need to be called. 

Long term problems can result from even just a sprained ankle. Take care of your injury the best you can but remember to trust your own judgment and visit a doctor if needed. Also, if the injury happened elsewhere, make sure you get the proper treatment. 

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19 thoughts on “Home Treatment for a Sprained Ankle and When to See a Doctor

  1. Oh ouch that looks really bad. Brought you to a place and a topic to write about from first hand knowledge. Get better soon.

  2. My husband has a sprained ankle right now (playing basketball with the grandkids Wednesday). It’s good to know that I’m doing the right things to take care of it.

  3. Oh bless your heart! That had to be painful! I need to keep this information because I am a clutz and falling is a common thing for me.

  4. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hurt my ankle and not known what to do. It is so painful and you don’t want to do nothing if it is truly broken. Thank you for all the great information!

  5. Oh my goodness I just had a terrible fall and sprained both ankles and my knee! I am a mess. I did go see a Dr. and thankful I did after reading your story. It will be a week tomorrow and I am improving but taking things really slow. I have literally cleared my calendar for 2 weeks to see if it will help me heal.

  6. That looks painful, I hope you are doing better now. I normally tend to visit the doctor right away because I want to avoid complications in the future

  7. It’s important to know the basic. Thank you for all of these information. I will be prepared if something like this happen.

  8. I am so glad to find out more about sprained ankle. It’s always useful to be informed!

  9. I am so sorry to hear you have had to go through this. I’ve never suffered from a sprained ankle, so this is so important for me to keep in mind if ever it happens.

  10. I sprained my ankle within hours of boarding our first cruise 🚢 and that was nearly 5 years ago. Who would imagine it would flare up time to time even now. These are great tips that I’ve put to use time and time again

  11. Thanks for the tips. I never know when to head to the doctor or not for something like this.

  12. That looks really painful, I hope it is better now! We have a great orthopedist who offers after-hours urgent care. That sounds like good advice for treating a sprained ankle.

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