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.
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.
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.