Swelling in the ankles is usually the result of an ankle injury, and can be painful and uncomfortable if you have to do physical activity. It's important to see a doctor immediately after you are injured, because the doctor can assess the injury and recommend the best treatment for your condition. However, there are some common treatments that doctors recommend for people with ankle injuries. Learn how to do it to help heal a swollen ankle.
Part 1 of 3: Speeding up the Healing Process
Step 1. Make an appointment with a doctor, or go to the emergency department at a hospital
If you have a recent injury and you are in pain, seek immediate medical attention. Go to the emergency department at a hospital if you think you need first aid, or you can't see your regular doctor. When the doctor performs an examination, he or she will ask several questions and examine certain symptoms to determine the type and severity of the injury. Tell the truth about your pain and other symptoms, so your doctor can properly diagnose and treat your injury. There are three levels of injury, namely:
- Grade I injuries are partial tears of the ligamentous tissue without loss of function or paralysis. Patients diagnosed with grade I injuries are still able to walk and bear weight on the injured part. The person may have bruising and mild pain.
- A grade II injury is a tear (but not completely) in one or more of the ligaments, and the injured part is difficult to function in a moderate stage. This means that the patient will find it difficult to bear the weight on the injured leg so that the patient needs support. The patient will feel pain of moderate intensity, have bruising, and swelling. The doctor will also notice that the area of movement of the injured body is limited.
- Grade III injuries are complete tears that alter and remove the unitary structure of the ligamentous tissue. The patient is unable to bear weight or walk unaided. The patient has severe bruising and swelling.
Step 2. Watch out for high ankle sprains
Ankle injuries generally involve the ATFL ligament that stabilizes the ankle. These injuries usually result from a "slipped" ankle. This injury is called a low ankle sprain, but you can also experience a high ankle sprain, especially if you are an athlete. High ankle sprain injuries occur in the ligament, the syndesmosis, which is located above the ankle joint. These injuries may not appear as bruising and swollen, but they are likely to be more painful and take longer to heal.
Step 3. Follow the instructions given by your doctor
After the doctor checks for swelling in the ankle, you must adhere to all the treatment plans given by the doctor to cure the swelling. Most likely, the doctor will tell you to rest, apply ice to the swelling, compress the swelling, and place the swollen ankle at a higher level than the heart, and all of these treatments must be performed over a period of time. Call your doctor if you experience more severe symptoms or the injury doesn't improve after some time.
If your injury is severe, find out about physical therapy that can help speed up the healing process of the injured area. The exercise sessions performed in this therapy also reduce your chances of injuring your ankle again in the future
Step 4. Rest the ankle for 2-3 days after the injury
Making sure your ankle gets adequate rest during this time can help speed up recovery. In other words, you should avoid doing sports or other activities that involve physical strength, especially activities that put pressure on the ankle. Maybe you need to take time off work if the job requires you to stand all day.
Step 5. Place an ice cube on the ankle for 15-20 minutes per session, to reduce pain and swelling
When you place an ice cube on your injured ankle, the resulting cold will reduce blood flow to the injured area, which will reduce the swelling more quickly. In addition, you will more easily tolerate the pain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel before you apply it to the skin.
After placing an ice cube on the ankle, wait for an hour, then apply the ice again to the injured area. Exposing the skin to ice for too long can damage the skin
Step 6. Compress the injured ankle, allowing you to limit the range of motion of the ankle
Compressing the injured area will also reduce swelling and speed up the recovery process. Cover the injured area with a bandage or compress.
Open the compress on the injured area at night. Leaving the compress overnight can completely block blood circulation in the legs, and potentially cause the tissue around the compressed area to die
Step 7. Position the injured ankle on a higher level
Doing this will limit blood flow to the injured area, which can help reduce swelling. You can elevate your ankles when you are sitting or lying down. Use some blankets or pillows to support your ankles so they are higher than your heart.
Step 8. While healing, avoid putting pressure on the injured ankle by not using it to support weight while standing, so you can heal faster
You can use a crutch or cane for support when you need to walk. Remember, you have to support your ankles as you go up and down stairs..
- As you climb the stairs, use your uninjured foot to climb the first rung. This way, the uninjured leg will support all of your body's weight while trying to fight the pull of gravity.
- As you descend the stairs, use the injured leg to descend the first rung. Thus, the force of gravity will help the injured leg as you step down.
Step 9. Prepare for a healing period that can last approximately 10 days
The healing process will indeed be helped if you follow all the instructions given by the doctor and avoid using the injured leg. However, the healing process of an ankle injury often takes about 10 days. Don't try to rush the healing process, or you'll make the injury worse. If necessary, take time off work and ask family or friends for help during the healing process.
Part 2 of 3: Using Medication to Reduce Swelling
Step 1. Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with your doctor's approval
Talk to your doctor about using NSAIDs to help you ease the pain during the healing process. NSAIDs can relieve pain caused by an ankle injury and reduce swelling. NSAIDs that can be purchased without a prescription at regular pharmacies include ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Naprosyn).
Consult your doctor before you use NSAIDs, especially if you have heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney damage
Step 2. Ask your doctor about using celecobix, which is known to be good for reducing inflammation caused by ankle injuries
Celecobix controls the production of prostaglandins, which are the cause of inflammation. Take this medication after meals, as taking it on an empty stomach can cause stomach upset.
Step 3. Also discuss the use of the drug piroxicam with your doctor, which is a drug that is useful for stopping the formation of prostaglandins
This medicine must be taken by placing it under the tongue and allowing it to melt until it can seep directly into the blood. Thus, the drug can reduce swelling quickly.
Step 4. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of surgery as a last resort
Surgery is rarely performed to treat ankle injuries, and is only performed in cases of serious ankle injuries that do not improve after months of rehabilitation and medical treatment. If you have a serious injury like this, talk to your doctor about whether surgery is the best solution for you.
Part 3 of 3: Reducing Activities That Potentially Aggravate Swelling
Step 1. Continue to compress the injured area with a cold compress
Do not use hot compresses while healing. The heat source will increase blood circulation to the injured area, exacerbating inflammation. Warm compresses, sauna baths, and steam baths in the first 3 days after an injury will actually make the condition of the injury worse. While healing, never use heat sources and only use cold compresses to relieve pain and swelling.
Step 2. Stop drinking any kind of alcohol while recovering
Drinking alcohol can open blood vessels in the body, making swelling worse and hindering the healing process. It's a good idea to stay away from alcohol while convalescing.
Step 3. Limit movement of the injured area to light movements
Do not run or do other physical activities, so that the ankle can heal. Running and other strenuous physical activities will only make things worse. Rest for at least a week before returning to exercise.
Step 4. Wait and don't massage your ankles for at least a week
While massaging the injured area to reduce the pain may seem like a good solution, doing so will only put external pressure on the injury, and result in worsening swelling.