Almost all of us at some point of time or the other would have endured the pain of a twisted ankle. Therefore, most of us would know just how painful it can be, and how to go about treating it. However, for the benefit of those who are yet to experience this leg injury (as well as for those who may have forgotten about how to take care of the same), here is a bit of information regarding the time period required for the healing of a twisted ankle.
Recovery Period: An Overview
First of all, let me clear a common misconception that some people have about sprained ankles. It is not only athletes, sportspeople, or people engaged in intense physical exercises, who are susceptible or likely to suffer from a sprained ankle. Twisting an ankle is a phenomenon that happens quite often to people of all ages and from all walks (pun unintended) of life. Some of the most common (and equally trivial) reasons for twisting an ankle are:
- Running and jogging
- Using improper footwear
- Incorrect standing posture or walking technique, in case of an obese person
- Not paying attention to road or sidewalk surfaces while walking
- Planting your foot in an awkward manner when getting out of bed.
It goes without saying, that the healing period will depend on the severity of the sprain. Assuming that it is a minor case of a simple sprained ankle, the four-point R.I.C.E. method is the best way of treating it. Here is how you should go about it.
Needless to say, you can't go about exerting yourself if you've just sprained an ankle. Regardless of how badly you've sprained it, the first thing you should do is to stop all activities which will exert or put pressure on the affected ankle. Stay put inside the walls of your house and give your ankle complete rest. If you must move around (for whatever reason it may be), avoid putting your weight on the affected leg, or use a pair of crutches or a walking stick for assistance.
Applying ice to the twisted ankle, immediately after spraining it, can often help in preventing it from swelling too much. Icing is a great home remedy in dealing with superficial muscle swelling and muscle pain. However, you should never apply ice directly to the skin. Always crush 2-3 ice cubes and place them in a soft hand towel, tie the ends of the hand towel, and then apply it to the affected area. Do this twice or thrice a day after every 4-6 hours. It can keep the muscle inflammation in check, and can prevent additional swelling (as well as reduce the existing swelling).
This is the 3rd part of the four-point R.I.C.E. recovery program. Use an athletic bandage or a crepe bandage and wrap it tightly around the ankle. It should fit snugly such that there is no room for movement. But at the same time, it should not be tight enough to cause numbness in the area. In case that happens, you need to loosen the bandage a little bit to allow proper blood circulation to take place. Compressing the sprained ankle using such a bandage will prevent unnecessary muscle movement, and will speed up the recovery process.
This is the last point of the R.I.C.E. recovery program. Whenever you are lying on a bed or resting on a chair, make it a point to rest your ankle in an elevated position (using a stool or another chair as a prop). It helps in preventing accumulation of water or fluid near the sprained area and in the process, helps in reducing the swelling.
If yours happens to be a mild ankle sprain, then it will take about 1 - 2 weeks for the twisted ankle to heal completely. However, if it happens to be a serious case, involving ruptured ligaments or broken joints, then the recovery period would be significantly longer (anywhere between 4 - 8 weeks), and would depend on the extent of the injury.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.