A sprained ankle occurs when the joint is rolled or stretched outside of its normal range of motion. Ankle ligaments can become stretched, inflamed, and torn, resulting in pain and swelling that usually persists for one to two weeks. There are many different sprained ankle treatment measures that people can take to relieve symptoms and shorten healing time. Mild sprains can usually be cared for at home by resting and icing the ankle, compressing it with an elastic bandage, and wearing a brace during activity. In the case of a more severe injury, a doctor might decide to set the ankle in a cast, schedule professional physical therapy sessions, or suggest surgery to repair damaged ligaments.
An ankle can be strained due to an awkward fall or pivot, or simply by stepping wrong while walking or running on a sloped surface. Pain and swelling are often present immediately after an injury, making it difficult to put weight on the leg. A sprain can cause the ankle to feel stiff and a person might not be able to walk for several days following an accident. Immediate sprained ankle treatment is helpful in alleviating pain, reducing swelling, and allowing an individual to get back to favorite activities in the shortest amount of time possible.
Most ankle sprains can be treated by resting the joint as much as possible and applying ice packs several times a day. Keeping the ankle elevated and compressing it with elastic bandages can also help to relieve swelling. Once a person is able to put weight on the ankle, he or she can invest in an over-the-counter ankle wrap or brace to provide additional support. Braces help to stabilize the joint and prevent ligaments from moving around. It is important to avoid strenuous activity or exercise until the ankle has sufficient time to heal, usually about two weeks.
If home remedies are not effective or pain is severely debilitating, an individual should schedule a visit with his or her physician to learn about other sprained ankle treatment measures. The doctor can physically examine the ankle and take x-rays to check for serious ligament damage. He or she might prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs, and immobilize the joint with a cast. Once swelling has gone down and pain starts to subside, a patient may be scheduled for rehabilitation sessions with a licensed physical therapist. A therapist can help the patient practice safe, effective exercises to rebuild strength and regain flexibility.
Surgical sprained ankle treatment is needed when ligaments have been torn. A surgeon can conduct a minimally-invasive procedure in which a small incision is made in the ankle and the damaged ligament is reattached. Patients are often required to wear a cast for several weeks after surgery, and engage in follow-up sprained ankle treatment and physical therapy. A severe injury may take up to six months to fully heal.