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At-Home Care For a Sprained Ankle:
One of the most common types of sports injuries we see is a sprained ankle. There are three degrees ligament sprains that range in severity from minor sprains to ruptured ligaments. In this article, we will dive into how to effectively implement mild sprained ankle healing at home. However, regardless of the severity of the sprained ankle you are experiencing, please book an appointment with your primary care provider and come see us for a full assessment at Team Elite Chiropractic.
Types of Sprained Ankles:
This is the most common type of ankle sprain, it is a mild sprain most likely caused by rolling your ankle. In a grade 1 sprain, you can hobble on your ankle, but it hurts and there is a little swelling.
With a grade 2 sprain, there is likely grapefruit-size swelling as well as bruising. You can put a little pressure on your ankle, but it can’t bear weight.
If you are experiencing a grade 3 sprain, you tore the ligament and need to get an MRI and imaging immediately.
When it comes to grade 1 sprains, there are several things you can do at home to speed up recovery. Historically, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) protocol is followed. While we support this protocol, new research indicates some minor adjustments.
While we do not recommend walking on a sprained ankle and aggravating it, we rarely recommend going home and doing nothing. We encourage pain-free, active rest, and range of motion exercises as quickly as possible.
On the first day, we recommend this 3-way ankle mobility exercise that can help your lymphatic system flush the inflammation back through the system.
On day 2 or 3, once your ankle is less swollen, we want to increase ankle mobilization. We recommend this banded ankle mobilization exercise:
On day 3 or 4 when you are experiencing less pain, we want to incorporate strengthening, we recommend this eccentric Achilles strengthening exercise:
Lastly, we want to work on ankle stability. Once the swelling has subsided and you can bear weight, we recommend this lateral step-up exercise:
All of these exercises should be pain-free. While slight discomfort is okay, please do not continue these exercises if you feel sharp pain.
This is an increasingly controversial recommendation. More and more research is showing that you shouldn't ice after an acute injury. The only time we recommend ice is for pain mitigation. If you can get by without ice, you should.
Research has found that ice isn’t speeding up healing, it is slowing it down. The ice takes down inflammation, but your body needs that inflammation to come because it brings chemical mediators that heal the injury. Ultimately, we want the inflammation to come, and then flush it out as quickly as possible.
While we don’t recommend ice, we do recommend incorporating heat 1-2 days after the injury to bring more blood flow to the area and heal the tissue.
Compression is a great tactic for a sprained ankle because it helps decrease swelling and provides stability to your ankle. You should apply a compression sleeve or sock as soon as the sprain occurs and wear it periodically for 2-3 days.
Elevating a sprained ankle reduces the accumulation of fluid in the joint. It also helps to reduce swelling and pain.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a sprained ankle, please call your primary care doctor right away and book an appointment with our experienced sports chiropractic team. While these at-home remedies support the healing of a sprained ankle, you still need to be checked out by a medical professional.