In this short guide, you will learn how to treat your sprained ankle, and by following the treatment process on this page, you will dramatically shorten your recovery time vs simply resting alone. The treatment process is called PRICE, we'll explain what that process is, and why it works so well to cut down your recovery time.
PRICE - Protection, Rest, Icing, Compression and Elevation
PRICE is an acronym which stands for Protection, Rest, Icing, Compression and Elevation. And, when done early in the healing process and applied often enough can by itself be responsible for shaving days off the length of a light grade 1 sprain and weeks off a more severe grade 3 sprain.
Put simply, getting PRICE right is very important to your recovery and we'll first break down the stages one by one, and in each section provide you with some example scenarios of how you would apply what you've learned in real life.
When you've gone over on your ankle the resulting damage to the ligaments is what causes the pain, weakness and swelling. These tough bands of fibrous tissue which normally hold the ankle joint together are frayed and torn and in order to shorten your recovery time, it is important to protect these delicate damaged ligaments from any further tearing.
To do this, you are advised to avoid any situation where they can take a knock, bump or be required to do their normal function of taking your weight or facilitating movement of the ankle. One of the best ways to do this is covering the ankle in a protective ankle support. A reinforcing ankle support for grade 1 to 2 sprains and a rigid ankle brace for grade 3 sprains.
Protect your ankle in the following ways
- Speak to your kids if you have them, get them on board with the fact they need to be extra careful around you. Accidental knocks can set you back massively.
- Don't rest your foot in the area where the dog normally sits on the sofa! Putting your foot where Fido normally chills on the couch can result in having a dog jumping on your foot.
- Wear an ankle support with rigid protection to protect your foot from accidental knocks.
A major cause of an extended recovery period is where the person with the sprained ankle doesn't allow the appropriate amount of rest for the body to truly go to work in fixing the damaged ligaments.
Not resting properly and trying to rush back on your feet can unsettle delicate and newly formed scar tissue and for each time that you disrupt the healing process know that you are also extending the length of time until you're fully back on your feet.
While resting make sure to gently rotate your ankle every now and then and take it through its full range of movement without putting any weight on it. This will have three main benefits.
- It will avoid your ankle becoming stiff from inactivity
- It will assist the lymphatic system in draining the waste products created from the healing process away from the ankle
- It will train the body in how to heal the ligaments by showing the correct way that you will need to move your ankle once it is fully healed.
Resting is not
- Keeping your foot completely stationary for 2 weeks solid. This would be a highway to a stiff ankle which has seized up and potentially healed in an inappropriate way.
- Using your ankle to bear weight to 'test how much weight it can hold' in the early days of the injury. Just trust in your body and give it time to recover properly.
- Walking on your injured ankle without wearing an ankle support to go grab a cuppa because you're really thirsty, and it's been a few days now and doesn't hurt anymore while sitting down.
Just because your ankle may stop hurting when you're sat down, doesn't mean that it's ready to walk on. And attempting this too early will set you back.
- Asking friends and family to help you. Can you call on people to help you get essential living items, pick up the kids or run errands?
- Preparing for extended periods with your feet up. Think, snacks and thermos flask to maintain your hydration throughout the day without needing to go back and forth to the kitchen.
- Switching to getting your groceries delivered to your home rather than trying to go out and hobble around a supermarket.
- Staying positive! The correlation between a healthy and positive mind and a quicker recovery is so strong it is practically a bonafide scientific fact. Fill your mind with positive thoughts and if it helps, use your time to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby.
Resting properly is probably one of the hardest things to do, considering the pressures and strains of everyday life. However, it is also essential for a quicker and more speedy recovery.
IcingYou're probably noticing some serious levels of swelling around your ankle by now. This is your body's way of providing protection for the ligaments and also a by-product of all the healing components contained in your blood which the body has rushed to the area. However, as beneficial as that sounds too much swelling can actually hinder the healing process. So to keep this under control you'll need to apply a cold ice pack to the area.
Simply wrap a handful of ice cubes in a towel, or pop them in a plastic bag (to contain the water as the ice melts) and rest the ice pack on your ankle over the site with the most swelling. This will also give you the added benefit of controlling the pain you feel as the cold will numb the area.
- If you don't have any ice then use a packet of frozen veg
- Consider putting the ice into a plastic bag to catch the water as the ice melts
- Put a wet small hand towel in the freezer until it's almost frozen and apply this to your ankle - this particular tip will feel amazing on your sore swollen ankle
- Periodically apply ice throughout the day to gradually bring your swelling down to acceptable levels
CompressionCompressing your ankle will provide swelling control over the long term without needing to constantly apply ice to your ankle and is especially effective over the medium term of an ankle injury.
Be careful when wrapping your ankle as you don't want to be too rough so as to cause any further damage, but you do want to fell a nice even firm compression around the affected area.
- In the early stages of recovery use an ankle support which fully opens out in order to better get your foot into it. Then wrap an additional reinforcing strap around your ankle to provide additional compression.
- After the initial phase of healing switch to a lighter compression sleeve which pulls on like a sock in order to give firm compression to your ankle.
ElevationUtilise gravity to assist in swelling control and remove healing byproducts from the area around your ankle by raising your foot off the ground. When using elevation it is important that you get your foot above your hip level, as any lower and the fluid will still pool around your ankle and you won't get the full benefits of elevation.
- Rest your foot on the arm of your sofa
- Pull a chair in front of where you are sat and rest your foot on that
- When in bed pop your foot on a pillow to provide slight elevation while sleeping