While ankle injuries of varying levels of severity are incredibly common, there is no lack of questions that people have about what they can do to heal correctly and swiftly and be able to better tolerate the arduous process. Whether you are suffering from a sprain, fracture, or an even more serious ankle injury, there are several practical things you can and should do as well as things to do for your overall well-being. In this post, you will discover what to do during and after your ankle injury.
- Get The Proper Diagnosis: Before you can receive any sort of effective treatment for an ankle injury, you need the proper diagnosis. Without it, certain treatments can actually cause more damage to your injury. If you merely have a twisted ankle, you won’t need a complicated surgery; you’ll just need to rest and ice the ankle for a period of time. But if you have a serious fracture, you’ll need to get medical attention immediately in order to be put in a cast, brace, or potentially undergo surgery. If you suspect your ankle is suffering from something more than a minor injury, consult with a medical professional right away to first, get the right diagnosis, and secondly get the proper treatment to heal correctly and as quickly as possible.
- Stay Off of Your Foot: This is a common sense strategy that anyone who has endured an ankle or other type of foot injury understands. Whether you have sprained your ankle, torn a ligament, or shattered bones in your foot, it is vital that you do not put weight on your foot. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be required to walk on crutches with your foot in a cast, brace, or boot for a certain period of time. Even once you have been seen by an ankle specialist and have your ankle supported, don’t let yourself be tempted to put weight on it when you are in a cast or brace unless an ankle specialist has given you the OK to do so.
- Watch For Swelling And Ice The Injured Area When Necessary: Swelling of the ankle is extremely common with multiple ankle and foot injuries, especially when the injury is fresh. If it is a minor ankle injury and the swelling doesn’t go down or worsens within the next 48 hours, it is a good idea to seek medical attention (especially if rest, elevation, and an iced compress do not help the swelling go down).
- Take Pain Medication: Another way to reduce the swelling is by taking pain medication. In some cases, a minor ankle injury will only require a general over-the-counter pain reliever. In more severe ankle injuries, after receiving medical attention, you will be given doctor-prescribed pain medication. Take the amount required to not only alleviate the pain, but reduce swelling in the affected area.
- Keep Your Foot Elevated: As often as possible, keep your foot up. While sleeping at night, prop your injured foot up on a few pillows to keep it elevated. If possible, keep your foot up on a chair at work or school. And of course, when resting, keep your foot propped up on pillows and raised above your heart. It is important to keep your ankle elevated immediately after injury as this will decrease the amount of blood flow to the affected area. When the blood flow is reduced, it helps decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. You will also be instructed to do this after surgery (if your ankle injuries requires operation).
- Rest: Most information resources list the importance of resting your ankle after an injury, but those affected by the pain should be reminded of resting their entire body as well as their mind. A serious injury leads to more mental and physical exhaustion that one might be prepared for. So if you are tired, don’t feel guilty or confused as to why you are; instead, keep in mind that the fatigue is related to the stress of a new injury. Your body will need time to repair. Prepare to spend more time resting than you normally do. Don’t be surprised if you doze of during the day or spend more time sleeping at night. This is common with any type of serious injury.
- Keep Up With Doctor’s Appointments: While not every case is the same, you may need to attend a couple different doctor’s appointments throughout the duration of your ankle injury. Don’t miss out on appointments or brush them off if think you are feeling better. You want to make sure that you are on the right track in the healing process and that you ankle and foot will be totally healed after effective treatment. For example, a serious injury such as an ankle fracture will require a few general check ups and x-rays, fittings for a brace, and potentially physical therapy. By ignoring appointments, there is a chance that your ankle will heal incorrectly and cause life long problems. This is easily avoidable by simply checking in with your doctor or an ankle specialist and doing everything that the doctor has recommended.
- Remember to Be Kind to Yourself: It is not uncommon for anyone who suffers from a serious ankle, leg, or foot injury to fall into a slump or become depressed. When you are immobilized, it feels as though you have been robbed of your independence and this commonly leads to feelings of frustration and sadness. Catch these feelings and thoughts when they first enter your mind, cast them out, and remind yourself that you are healing and will be better in time. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about not being able to do certain things you used to do with ease or feeling more tireder for most parts of the day. Instead, learn to accept the kindness and help of those around you, indulge in your favorite activity, enjoy a sweet treat, and do whatever you need to do to feel better. Just keep in mind that your ankle injury (while inconvenient and painful), is temporary and soon enough you will be back on both feet.
- Don’t Rush it: While the last thing anyone who has just spent six weeks in a cast wants to hear is “take it slow”, doing just that is one of the most important things you can do when in the final stages of your recovery. Once the healing process is over, the strengthening process must begin. If you have been off of your ankle for a long period of time, your muscles have atrophied and will need to be rebuilt slowly. And ankle specialist may recommend that you see a physical therapist for the months following the injury. In less serious cases, you may only need to do strength building exercises at home. Whatever the case may be, remember to take it slow and don’t overdo anything as this could lead to re-injuring your ankle.