Picture a gorgeous, sunny day, and you decide to go the park to play frisbee. As you jump to catch the rotating disk, you land awkwardly on your ankle, crying out in pain. An urgent care visit reveals a sprained ankle. What do you do now?
After being diagnosed with a sprained ankle, you will want to head to the pharmacy with any prescriptions that the doctor gave to you. Though this seems very basic, many people throw out the prescription, only to wish they hadn’t later on. Usually when a patient sprains an ankle, the doctor will prescribe some sort of analgesic, which will be useful at the end of the day, when your ankle is sore.
The doctor may also have given you crutches to use while you are injured, and while these often seem like a pain in the ankle, it is best to use them. Many people ignore the crutches, trying to hobble around on their bad ankle instead, and end up further injuring themselves. It seems most logical to just use them, deal with the inconvenience, and heal as quickly as possible.
Resting is the key to recovery, and you must make time for it. Try taking it easy, making fewer trips to the coffee pot at work, and staying relaxed. Tension can increase pain, so keep the stress load light for a few days. Most doctors will encourage movement of the injured ankle as it feels comfortable. Remember that you can’t push a sprain to heal any more quickly than it wants to. Overworking a sprain can cause further damage to the ankle, and will slow healing time, and there is always the possibility of further injury.
Keeping the injured ankle elevated should reduce inflammation, minimizing pain and making you more comfortable. Remember that even if you are on crutches, you shouldn’t remain standing for long periods of time. Putting any weight on the ankle, or even letting it dangle, could cause more damage in the earliest stages of healing. Keep it propped up!
Your doctor will probably also recommend ice every three or four hours, as needed. Usually you won’t need to ice it for more than fifteen minutes at a time. This really does help, even though it can get pretty chilly. Many times patients are eager to get the ice on to reduce pain and inflammation, and they don’t read all of the instructions. Make sure that you place the ice pack in towel before placing it over your injury. Do not apply the ice pack directly to your skin.
Compressing the injury always helps it feel better. Most of the time you will leave the doctor with your ankle wrapped. Sometimes this is in bandage form, and other times you are placed in an air cast. These hard plastic moldings have air pockets on the inside, and the contraption keeps your ankle in place very nicely.
However you care for your sprained ankle, remember to allow yourself a little TLC…You deserve it right now!