It’s one of the most common — and most inconvenient — injuries: a sprained ankle. You rely on your ankle to stabilize you as you move around. But you probably don’t give it much thought until it has a problem. Then, once you sprain it, you realize just how much you need it.
Good news: In some cases, a sprained ankle will heal on its own. In others, though, it needs dedicated care. In this guide, Christopher Vittori, DPM, Ameet Thakrar, DPM, and our team help you understand how to care for a sprained ankle at home. We also show you when it’s time to make an appointment at one of our Vittori Foot & Ankle Specialist offices in Homer Glen and New Lenox, Illinois.
Some sprained ankles will heal on their own if given proper care.
First and foremost, get off that foot. The sprain is a sign that the ligaments, tendons, and/or muscles in your ankle are injured. If you keep walking on that ankle — even if you hobble along and try to be careful — you risk making the injury worse. That means a longer recovery time.
Instead, get off the foot and apply the RICE method:
All of these options help to reduce swelling. Applying compression with an Ace bandage can go a long way here. The trick is to know how to safely wrap your ankle. Follow these steps:
Note that the Ace bandage will compress your ankle, not immobilize it. That means this can help with swelling and healing, but it’s not a way to get back on your feet. Stay off the ankle until it feels better, or you’ll only make it worse.
A minor sprained ankle should heal relatively quickly. If you follow all of these steps, many sprains will heal in as little as a day or two.
Check in with yourself at the 24-hour mark. If you still can’t walk normally at that point, schedule an appointment with us. No progress after a full day means the ankle likely won’t heal on its own.
If it’s been 24 hours and you need care for your sprained ankle, call Vittori Foot & Ankle Specialist or schedule an appointment online today.