Have you ever sprained your ankle? If so, you know how painful and frustrating it can be. It can be tempting to keep walking on a sprained ankle, but is that the best course of action? Can walking on a sprained ankle make it worse? In this article, we’ll explore the risks associated with walking on a sprained ankle and provide recovery tips to help you heal quickly and safely.
Understanding Sprained Ankles
Sprained ankles are one of the most common injuries that affect people of all ages and physical abilities. They can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as a sudden twist, turn, or roll of the ankle. The ankle joint is made up of several bones, tendons, and ligaments that work together to provide stability and support to the foot.
When the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle joint are stretched or torn, it can result in a sprained ankle. Symptoms of a sprained ankle can range from mild to severe and can include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking. Understanding the causes and symptoms of a sprained ankle is important to ensure proper treatment and a speedy recovery.
Can Walking on a Sprained Ankle Make It Worse?
It’s best to avoid walking on a sprained ankle until it has fully healed. Ignoring a sprained ankle and continuing to walk on it can cause serious and long-lasting damage to the joint. Although walking might seem like a harmless activity, it can actually exacerbate the injury and hinder the healing process.
When you put weight on a sprained ankle, you risk further tearing the already damaged ligaments, which can lead to more pain, swelling, and stiffness. This can also lead to a loss of range of motion in the joint and make it difficult to perform everyday activities.
Additionally, walking on a sprained ankle can cause the bones in the ankle to shift out of place, which can result in long-term joint instability and the development of chronic ankle pain. It is essential to give the ankle time to rest and heal properly in order to avoid these risks and ensure a successful recovery.
Recovery from a sprained ankle can be a slow process, but it’s important to be patient and allow the ligaments time to heal properly. In addition to rest, ice, compression, and elevation, there are other recovery tips that can help speed up the healing process.
One of the most important things you can do is avoid activities that could re-injure the ankle. This includes sports, running, and even walking long distances. Instead, you should use crutches, a brace, or a walking boot to help take pressure off the joint.
As your ankle starts to heal, you can gradually start to put more weight on it. It’s important to do this slowly and with caution to avoid re-injuring the ankle. Physical therapy can also be a helpful tool in the recovery process.
A physical therapist can teach you exercises that can help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the ankle, improve range of motion, and reduce the risk of future sprains. They can also help you develop a recovery plan tailored to your specific needs and abilities.
Additionally, practicing good ankle care, such as wearing supportive shoes and stretching before physical activity, can help prevent future injuries and promote overall joint health.
Preventing a sprained ankle is always better than dealing with the aftermath of an injury. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing a sprain. One of the most important things you can do is wear appropriate footwear. Choose shoes that provide good support and traction, especially if you’re planning to engage in physical activity.
Another effective preventative measure is to perform regular ankle-strengthening exercises. Simple exercises like calf raises, ankle circles, and toe raises can help improve the strength and stability of the muscles and ligaments in your ankle. Additionally, stretching before physical activity can help reduce your risk of injury.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce your risk of ankle sprains. Excess weight puts extra pressure on your joints, which can make them more susceptible to injury. Finally, be mindful of your surroundings and watch where you’re walking. Uneven surfaces, obstacles, and slippery floors can all increase your risk of a sprained ankle.
When to Seek Medical Attention
It’s important to note that not all sprained ankles are the same, and some may require more intensive treatment than others. In most cases, sprained ankles can be treated at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
However, there are certain instances where seeking medical attention is necessary. If you experience severe pain, swelling, or bruising, or if you’re unable to put any weight on the affected ankle, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
Additionally, if you notice any unusual symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the ankle or foot, or if the joint appears misaligned, you should also seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms could indicate a more serious injury, such as a fracture or dislocation.
In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs may be needed to properly diagnose and treat the injury. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you’re unsure about the severity of your injury. Prompt treatment can help ensure a faster and more complete recovery.
Also Read: Can You Still Workout with a Broken Toe?
Physical Therapy for Sprained Ankles
Physical therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical approach to treating sprained ankles. A physical therapist will typically evaluate your injury and develop a customized treatment plan based on your specific needs.
The treatment plan will usually consist of a combination of exercises, stretches, and manual therapy techniques, all of which are designed to help reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and increase strength and stability in the affected ankle.
One of the key benefits of physical therapy is that it can help you avoid the need for surgery or other invasive procedures. Surgery is typically reserved for more severe cases of sprained ankles and can be costly and require a lengthy recovery period. Physical therapy, on the other hand, is a more conservative approach that can often yield similar results without the need for surgery.
Another benefit of physical therapy is that it can help you regain the normal function of the affected ankle. Sprained ankles can often lead to weakness and instability in the joint, which can make it more difficult to perform everyday activities like walking, running, and jumping.
Physical therapy can help you regain strength, balance, and coordination in the affected ankle, allowing you to return to your normal activities with less risk of re-injury.
Alternative Treatment Options
While rest and rehabilitation are typically the go-to treatments for sprained ankles, there are some alternative options that may provide additional relief. One popular option is acupuncture, which involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and reduce pain. Massage therapy can also be helpful in reducing swelling and increasing circulation to the affected area.
In addition, some people find relief from alternative therapies such as chiropractic care or herbal supplements. However, it’s important to note that these treatments should always be used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment, not as a replacement for it.
How long does it take to recover from a sprained ankle?
The recovery time for a sprained ankle can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Mild sprains can take a few days to a few weeks to heal, while more severe sprains can take several weeks or even months.
Should I see a doctor for a sprained ankle?
If you experience severe pain, swelling, or numbness, or if you’re unable to put weight on the affected ankle, you should seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms could indicate a more serious injury, such as a fracture.
Can I prevent a sprained ankle?
Yes, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing a sprained ankle. Wearing appropriate footwear, performing regular ankle-strengthening exercises, and maintaining a healthy weight are all effective preventative measures.
What alternative treatments are available for a sprained ankle?
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and herbal supplements may provide additional relief for a sprained ankle. However, it’s important to use these treatments in conjunction with traditional medical treatment, not as a replacement for it.
In conclusion, walking on a sprained ankle can make the injury worse and lead to long-term joint damage. It’s important to give your ankle time to rest and heal properly to ensure a successful recovery. Seeking medical attention if you experience severe pain, swelling, or numbness is crucial to properly diagnose and treat the injury.
Finally, taking preventative measures like wearing appropriate footwear, performing regular ankle-strengthening exercises, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of experiencing a sprained ankle in the first place.
Hi, I am Parth Chowtia, an MSK/Sports Physiotherapist with a degree in Sports Medicine from Leeds Beckett University, UK. I have five years of experience working with top brands and like to share guides on preventing and managing injuries resulting from sports and exercise participation at all ages and levels of ability.