Ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries we face in our day-to-day life. We love sports and so we participate in various games- hop, jump, sprint. And if somehow, we are not careful, we may lose our balance thus landing on the wrong foot.
Some of us may not even participate ourselves, thinking, “I am not cut out for this” or “Let’s just stay away from accidental injuries”.
But we love games nonetheless. So, we support various teams. We cheer, laugh and shout and exactly when we are expecting it the least, some incident might happen to lead to a sprained ankle.
Or, you might just be a person who normally stays away from the din and bustle of sports and other things relating to it. You were just minding no one’s business and walking on the street.
Out of nowhere, you tripped on something (or, it may just be nothing) and behold, you sprained your ankle! (Wow, now it’s starting to sound really weird! It’s almost as if ankle sprains are lurking around the corner just waiting for the next victim to deliver themselves!)
Anyway, the thing is that these things may happen at any time, any minute and any second of the day. You have no control over it (Accidents happen accidentally). It’s not your fault (not always though).
The bottom line is that, when all it takes is a single misstep, there’s really nothing left to say. Recent statistics show that every day, around 25000 cases of an ankle sprain are observed in the U.S alone. So, the question is how to cure a sprained ankle fast?
Before facing it, first, we should know How to know if you have an ankle sprain?
How to know if you have an ankle sprain?
We have these fibrous bonds in between our bones that hold them together. They are known as ligaments. When we say we have an ankle sprain, what that really means is that the ligaments in our ankle have received damage.
There are some signs and symptoms that can almost always indicate if you have a sprained ankle or not. Let’s discuss them in the language of normal human beings (and not in that of medical personnel because you would not be here if you were one and most people, *cough*me*cough*, don’t really understand them).
In terms of the place of injury, we can divide ankle sprain into two main categories- lateral sprain and medial sprain.
There are three ligaments that hold our ankle bones together- anterior and posterior talofibular ligaments and the calcaneofibular ligament. In the case of lateral sprains, the ankle rolls inward, damaging one, two or all of these ligaments. 85% of the total ankle sprains seen are this type of ankle injuries.
If any or all of these ligaments of yours are injured, then what you’re suffering from is a lateral sprain, otherwise known as an inversion sprain
In case of medial sprains and syndesmotic sprains, the tibiofibular ligaments (ligaments that join the two leg bones- tibia and fibula that are just above the ankle) are injured. Cases of these sprains don’t occur a lot and they are more likely to render the ankle prone to sprain and cause instability.
When an ankle injury occurs, it is likely that the ligament/s got stretched, popped or severed. Swelling and bruising can occur as a result of this (It’s the result of swelling of the tissues around the joints and accumulation of fluid within it and it’s a sign that something is causing irritation).
Your foot will feel heavy and tender because of swelling with all the fluids weighing it down. The affected area might have a change in skin color as compared to other areas. You might hear a ‘pop’ sound at the time of the incident.
As the ligaments are depreciated or injured, they are no longer capable of carrying your body weight like before. So, you’ll feel uncomfortable as soon as you put your weight on the injured ankle. The pain may vary depending on the rank of injury.
So, to sum it up, the symptoms are-
- May hear a ‘pop’ sound
- Inability to put weight on the foot
- Change in skin tone
I am sorry to make the article a little long and for not giving your answer for how to cure a sprained ankle fast? Because you need to know the basics for a better cure. Let’s know about the answer to “How long does a rolled ankle takes to heal?”
How long does a rolled ankle takes to heal?
According to Harvard Medical School, depending on how severe your injuries are, they are generally divided into three categories as follows.
Category I: The minimal injuries are included in this level, that means, no tear in the ligament, little to no bruising or instability to joints, minimal stretching of the ligament. Pain level remains in minimum to mild, some swelling and tenderness is noticed. This type of ankle sprain generally takes 1-3 weeks to heal, given that you take proper care.
Category II: This type of ankle sprain indicates that there is a partial tear in the ligament. This may lead to mild to moderate pain, swelling, tenderness and possible bruising. There may be some restriction in the range of motion and the joint may become unstable to some extent. Walking and standing, most of all, putting weight on the ankle will be painful. Recovery might take 3-6 weeks or more in some cases.
Category III: Level 3 indicates complete tear or rupture of ligament. Swelling, tenderness, bruising is noticed, which might lessen with time. Severe pain indicates the inability of the ankle to bear weight. Ankle becomes Unstable and loses its general range of motion. It may take several months to heal this type of ankle sprain.
It may be noted that the general grading system refers to the condition of one ligament. As we already know, there are multiple ligaments relating to different types of ankle sprains, it is hard to put any injury strictly into one category. Therefore, the recovery time varies depending upon the specific injury.
Also, different doctors have different methods of categorizing ankle injuries. And so, the category may vary and the recovery time will change along with it.
So, it is best if you have a regular doctor. In case of a change, you should provide the doctor with your previous medical documents to ensure a proper diagnosis.
Cautions and precautions:
As they say, prevention is better than cure. If you are careful, avoiding accidents and injuries leans more toward the easier side. Also, if you are already a patient of an ankle sprain, please take your time to read through the list carefully and make sure to remember them. You don’t want to fall victim again, do you?
- First and foremost, be careful (Yes, I know I said that it happens accidentally and it does, but remember that I also said, “Not always”. Don’t think as if you are superman. Now, I am not telling you to be a coward. Do take risks. But take calculated risks, not the unnecessary, brain-dead ones.)
- Gradually buildup your reflexes and improve your body coordination through regular exercise. There is no alternative to this.
- Always warm up properly before any kind of sports activity.
- Don’t exercise or conduct other activities on an uneven surface or surface that is slippery.
- Do not wear inappropriate footwear. Avoid high heels as much as possible. Do not leave your shoelaces untied.
- Make sure your previous injuries have healed properly. Don’t let a grade I injury turn into something more serious just because you didn’t follow the treatment methods properly.
- Follow strengthening routines. Complete the rehabilitation process.
- Wear an ankle brace if needed.
- Stop your activities as soon as you feel the pain come back or the moment you start feeling like you’ve sprained your ankle again.
- Most importantly, listen to your doctor and stick to their instruction (like glue!).
At any point, if you feel like you sprained your ankle do not ignore it and seek medical attention. There are many cases of it. Don’t wait till your injury gets serious.
how to cure a sprained ankle fast?
As a traditional method of treatment, the P.R.I.C.E method plays a big role in the early phases of post-accident cure.
Protection Make sure that there is enough protection for the injured ankle. Sit or lie down. Don’t try walking around further aggravating the injury.
Rest The second method that follows the first one closely is Rest. Take plenty of rest. It may be boring and frustrating but you have to understand what your body needs and prioritize that.
Ice This is an important part. You can use any kind of ice packs, frozen pea or corn bags. Basically, any kind of frozen food or other things that you think suitable can be used for this purpose, just make sure to wrap it in a cloth so as not to put the ice directly on the skin.
Also, make sure not to ice for more than 15-20 minutes in a row or it might harm your skin and damage the cells underneath.
Compression Apply pressure on the injured ankle to control swelling due to sprain. If at any point you feel like it’s cutting off your blood circulation, stop immediately and loosen the compression around your ankle.
Elevation The last and fifth stage is Elevation. It’s best to elevate your ankle above the heart level. Especially when you’re about to sleep, put a pillow beneath your foot. When you’re awake and sitting up make sure to elevate your ankle to a position where it is independent of the body so that sudden movement doesn’t affect it.
Most cases of grade I sprain and lateral sprain are treated with a combination of P.R.I.C.E and other home remedies. Since they are not that serious, an ample amount of rest is normally enough.
Though it might seem like a slow method this is actually the fastest method to cure a sprained ankle. You wouldn’t want to and shouldn’t go back to doing normal activities and most importantly, sports, before even taking proper rest. Because that’ll not let your ankle have enough time to heal and get back to at its prime which will elevate the risk of you spraining your ankle once again.
Many first-timers, who are all too keen to go back to their normal routine, tend to jump the queue and in their haste, end up spraining their ankle again. This is why the recurrence rate of the first-time sprain is as high as 70%.
So, be patient and take it slow. Consult your doctor and follow their instructions properly. Follow rehab methods if necessary.
In cases of mild to high ankle sprains, your doctor will probably refer you medicine and suggest rehabilitation methods. And in the meantime, you might be advised to use ankle braces as your treatment progresses to mid-stage. Follow the strengthening techniques. Using ankle braces and taking medicine along with it is the fastest way to cure and it is the best answer to your question “how to cure a sprained ankle fast?”
If at some point you feel like your ankle is protesting, then stop, inform the person assisting you and consult your doctor. At any stage of treatment, always remember to be patient.
As it gets closer and closer to the peak of soundness, many people, athletes, in particular, become impatient to begin again and they want to do it quickly. They fail to recognize that doing so just might leave a gaping loop-hole in their future wellbeing.
But you must understand that if you have had a serious ankle sprain, getting back from there is not done in a jiffy. You have to go through a step-by-step procedure and ease your body into being active again. To do so, the first and foremost thing to do is to listen to your doctor. He knows better.
Taping vs bracing ankle
Through the whole process of regaining fitness, especially starting from the mid-stage, you might want to start wearing an ankle brace or tape your ankle. It could be that you want to go out for some fresh air, on your way to the doctor’s or therapy centre or you just need to go out to attend some important event.
You then need to prepare well for any possible cases and protect your ankle. You might need to walk for a bit or stand on your ankle for a while. Wearing an ankle brace can totally help your ankle bear the body weight and act as a support.
As you go through the last stage of treatment, you would want to start trying to get back on your feet, doing light exercises and go further from there. Depending upon your need you can use various types of ankle braces. I wouldn’t recommend taping much.
Because it’s more like a one-time use thingy, you have to tape your ankle every single time. Also, it may not be suitable for all types of situations. Not to mention, as the gum wears off, it’ll get loose and may even feel itchy.
Do ankle braces weaken your ankle?
I’ll say, that depends. If you’re going to go around wearing the wrong brace in a wrong way then obviously you will feel uncomfortable. And as time goes by, your foot might feel numb owing to the lack of proper blood circulation and might lead to other complications.
Wearing an ankle brace unnecessarily and for a long time might put extra pressure on your other foot, and might affect your knee. So make sure to buy the appropriate ankle brace, one that is the best for you.
Follow the exact instructions in this regard- be it from the people who made the ankle brace, your doctor, coach or rehab instructor. After wearing it appropriately, you will find that the drawbacks can no longer out-weigh the advantages.
The reason why you see so many sportsperson opting to wear ankle braces is exactly this. They know that wearing an ankle brace, minimizes the chance of them rolling their ankle again. Now, there are exceptions to everything.
So, your doctor might decide that in your case ankle braces will bring about unnecessary circumstances and omit it out as hindrance. But that may not be the case for everyone else. The huge popularity of ankle braces attests to that.
Types of ankle braces
There are many types of ankle braces available in the market and if you delve into it, you’ll find that there are many types of ankle braces originating from various companies that cater to the multi-dimensional needs of the customer. There are three types of ankle braces in general –
- soft ankle brace
- semi-rigid ankle brace
- Soft ankle braces are generally made of soft, cloth-like materials. They provide padding for the ankle but at the same time doesn’t restrict the mobility of the ankle that much. It provides support while lacking the rigidness. This type of ankle braces is quite inexpensive.
- Semi-rigid ankle braces are aimed for the people who need more support to the ankle and at the same time provides a wider range of motions (as compared to rigid braces) There are many variations available in this section like lace-up, wrap up or mixed, hinged etc. These types of ankle braces are slightly more expensive than the soft type ankle braces.
- Rigid ankle braces are not used for sports purposes. They play more of a “supporting” role as they aid during the healing process mainly. They provide the most amount of support among all types of ankle braces. Rigid ankle braces, as their name suggests, immobilize the ankle to a certain extent. In addition to the padding, the price also goes up a bit.
How to choose the ankle brace I need?
In response to your question “how to cure a sprained ankle fast? Our answer was taking care, wearing ankle brace and taking medicine. But how you choose the best ankle brace for you? You need to look out for some qualities before you buy an ankle brace.
- Fitting: make sure the brace compliments your foot size. Don’t buy one that is too big or too small.
- Comfort: Even if the ankle brace is of the correct size, make sure you feel comfortable wearing it and that, it doesn’t cut off your blood circulation
- Need: The ankle brace should fulfil your necessities. Don’t buy a soft brace when you should’ve brought a semi-rigid or rigid one.
- Material: If you have sensitive skins, make sure the materials in the product aren’t harmful to
- Details: If possible, read the product description properly prior to buying so that you know what you’re getting. In particular, make sure that you understand the size chart of the product that you’ve chosen to avoid ordering the wrong one.
Should I wear ankle support with socks?
Whether you should wear socks with ankle braces or not depends upon your ankle brace. If your ankle brace requires a sock, then you should wear one. In most cases, they’ll recommend you to wear athletic socks.
Most products will come with their own set of instructions that are necessary and many may even have their own step-by-step video guide showing you how to wear one. Follow them and away you go!
How to wear ankle brace with shoes?
First of all, you need to put on your ankle brace in a way that feels comfortable. Follow the instruction that came with the brace to rip most of it. Then find a comfortable, sturdy pair of shoe that doesn’t make your foot feel stuffy or too tight.
You might need to go up a size to find the perfect fit. Sneakers or athletic shoes are recommended, the types that can be adjusted accordingly. Please don’t expect it to work with heels or slippers.
The ankle brace hurts my foot. What can I do?
I’ve got two words only for this type of situation. Remove it, immediately (was that three words? Anyway). An ankle brace is a footwear that is supposed to bring you comfort while providing support.
They should not hurt your foot. First of all, check to see if the binding was too tight. This actually happens in lots of cases. Try binding it again and try to find the most comfortable position.
Take help from someone else, if needed. If that is not the case then chances are that you bought an ankle brace that is a size too small. So be very careful while buying.
Should I wear an ankle brace to bed?
I don’t think it’s necessary to wear an ankle brace to bed unless your doctor told you so. In cases of swelling, it’s best to elevate your ankle above the heart level. If you are in a lot of pain and c ompression can lessen it then you can get some light bandages to wrap around the ankle.
How to wash an ankle brace?
Your ankle brace will probably have its own method of cleaning. So, please check the instruction manual of the brace. Most of the ankle braces of soft type can be washed with soap or detergent.
For the rigid and semi-rigid types if you’re unable to wash them then spray them with disinfectant and let them air-dry. Even if you cannot wash your ankle brace daily, you should let them air-dry on a daily basis to avoid getting them smelly or sticky.