More than 23,000 U.S. adults per day require treatment for ankle sprains. While they are extremely common, ankle sprains can also lead to several complications. In fact, up to 70% of people who sustain acute ankle sprains may develop disabilities like chronic ankle instability in the future. Early intervention for your ankle sprain can therefore be important in preventing advanced injury.
A sprained ankle occurs when one or more of the ligaments in your ankle are overstretched or torn. This can happen after overuse or from a sudden injury, like a twist or fall. You can sprain your ankle while walking on uneven ground, while running and overstretching your ligament, or after falling on your ankle. Athletes can be especially susceptible to ankle sprains if they repeat the same foot movements over time.
Symptoms of an ankle sprain can include:
- Limited range of motion.
- Popping sound at the moment of injury.
- Pain that worsens while bearing weight on the ankle.
- Tenderness in the spot of injury.
Most of the time, you will notice immediate pain and swelling after an ankle sprain. Thankfully, several natural remedies, including virtual physical therapy, can help you ease your symptoms.
5 natural remedies for a sprained ankle
Many people would rather address their sprained ankle with natural remedies that can be easily tried at home. The following natural remedies can help ease your pain, reduce your swelling and boost your healing process as you recover from your sprained ankle:
- Stretches — While moving your sprained ankle may be the last thing on your mind, doing so can be crucial to your recovery. In fact, keeping your ankle in an immobile position for long periods of time can actually increase your stiffness and pain down the line. Gentle stretches like ankle pumps can improve blood flow to your injury, reduce inflammation, increase your ankle mobility and minimize stiffness caused by scar tissue.
- Strengthening exercises — While stretches can encourage blood flow to your ankle, gentle exercises can strengthen your weakened ankle joint. Strengthening the tissue surrounding your ankle can help reduce pain, restore your ankle’s alignment and lessen your recovery time.
- Ice and heat — Both ice and heat are popular natural remedies that can help ease pain from your sprained ankle. However, each method can be beneficial for different stages of your recovery. Applying ice, for example, can be most helpful to your ankle if it is applied immediately after injury. This way, it can effectively reduce swelling. You can apply ice while you are recovering for up to 30 minutes at a time. On the other hand, heat can improve blood flow to your sprain. You can switch between heat and ice throughout the day for optimum pain relief.
- Elevation and rest — Elevation can be an important natural remedy during your healing process from a sprained ankle. When you elevate your swollen ankle above your heart, you encourage circulation and prevent swelling from accumulating in your ankle. This, coupled with rest from weight-bearing activities, can be an easy home remedy that decreases inflammation over time.
- Virtual PT — You don’t have to pursue natural remedies for your ankle sprain alone. Options like virtual physical therapy make it possible for you to perform strengthening exercises and stretches under the safe instruction of a physical therapy specialist. A virtual interface means that you can access physical therapy benefits from the comfort of your own home.
How long does recovery from a sprained ankle take?
Dealing with sprained ankle pain can interrupt your daily schedule and your routine. It may require days in bed or in crutches. Knowing how long your recovery process may take can boost your emotional well-being and give you a goal to work toward.
Your recovery time from a sprained ankle depends on how severe your injury was. The following sprain scale can help you know how long you might need to pause regular activity after your ankle sprain:
- Grade 1 — If you have minor swelling and pain, you may have a Grade 1 sprain. This type of sprain involves a stretch or small tear in your ankle ligament. Recovery time from this sprain can take up to five weeks.
- Grade 2 — Grade 2 sprains may involve considerable swelling and pain that begins immediately after the injury. This type of sprain involves a partially torn ligament. You may need up to six weeks to recover from a Grade 2 sprain.
- Grade 3 — With a Grade 3 sprain, you may notice significant swelling, pain and loss of mobility. Even a slight movement may cause excruciating pain. A Grade 3 sprain is the most severe, involving a completely torn ligament. You may need up to six months to fully recover from a Grade 3 sprain.
No matter the severity of your sprain, it is important that you recover fully before you play sports and perform work as normal. Up to 40% of patients with ankle sprains experience a recurred injury, which is often due to overestimating your recovery status. It can be helpful to check your recovery progress with your health care professional so that you know when you can resume activities as normal.
Agile Virtual PT can help you find natural remedies for your sprained ankle
Are you seeking natural remedies for your sprained ankle? Our team of specialists at Agile Virtual Physical Therapy can help you find remedies that address your specific symptoms. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.