Ankle sprains are very common in the United States. It has been reported that they make up about 60% of all ankle and foot problems around the country in people who are 17 years old or older. There are some things you can do at home to help your ankle heal. There are different ankle sprain grades and the severity of your sprain will determine how quickly it heals.
Understanding the Ankle Sprain Grades:
- First degree ankle sprain: This is the most minor of the ankle sprains. This is a small stretching or tear of the ligament in the ankle. People with this level of sprain will experience mild pain, a little swelling, a bit of joint instability, mild stiffness and difficulties with jumping or jogging.
- Second degree ankle sprain: This is the next level up in ankle sprain grades and is the most common ankle injury. People who suffer one of these will experience a decent amount of swelling, some bruising, a moderate level of pain, some problems using the joint. People who have this level will also have trouble walking.
- Third degree ankle sprain. This is the most serious ankle sprain. In this injury, the ligament is not stretched, it is torn. The symptoms include serious swelling and pain, total instability of the ankle, total loss of motion and extreme pain when weight is put on the ankle.
Look to RICE to help. Whenever you suffer an injury such as this, the first line of defense is rest, ice, compression and elevation or RICE.
- Rest the ankle. After the injury, you need to take special care of the joint for the first 48 to 72 hours. It does not matter which of the ankle sprain grades you have suffered, staying off of it for this crucial period of time can do a lot to help it heal quicker and easier. If you need to get around, it is advisable to use crutches or a wheelchair to prevent putting weight on it.
- Put ice on it. Reducing inflammation is crucial for all of the ankle sprain grades. The cold from the ice will constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation. For about 20 minutes every few hours, you should apply an ice pack or can use frozen peas or other vegetables. If you cannot stand 20 minutes, try doing it for 10. Do not put it directly on the skin but wrap with a wash cloth.
- Compress the joint with a bandage. Compression wraps will also help protect the joint from further injury.
- Elevate the ankle. If you can keep your ankle above your heart for a minimum of three hours a day for the first few days, you can do a lot to reduce the inflammation and prevent bruising of the area.
There are other things you can do at home:
- Try turmeric. Turmeric has been reported to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and natural pain reliever. Mix one teaspoon of turmeric into a glass or warm milk, water or soy milk. Drink this twice a day. You can also get turmeric in your food. It is considered to be one of the super foods so getting more of it in your diet is always a good thing. It can help with ankle and foot pain. It is found in a number of Indian food dishes and curries so if you like those, you are in luck.
- Try olive oil. This also has anti-inflammatory properties. Take one egg and mix in a tablespoon of olive oil and apply to to your ankle. Put a bandage over the area. Reapply as needed.
- Try Epsom salt. This has been reported to be effective for all ankle sprain grades and many foot and ankle problems. Add one cup of Epsom salt to a warm bath. Soak your ankle for about one half hour. If you do this twice a day for about three days for the best efficacy of this treatment.
- Try onions. Onions also have anti-inflammatory properties. Apply a cold chopped onion to the ankle, put a bandage over it and leave it there for several hours. You can use a new onion every eight hours for several days.
Sprained ankles will heal but you really need to rest the joint.