Why Rest Isn't Optional While Nursing an Ankle Sprain

Why Rest Isn't Optional While Nursing an Ankle Sprain

As one of the most common ankle injuries, sprains result in over 2 million ER visits each year. The actual number of ankle sprains is likely much higher, since not everyone goes to the ER after spraining an ankle. 

Regardless of how you sprained your ankle, the resulting pain and swelling can make it difficult (if not impossible) to carry on with your daily tasks. A busy schedule and the desire to get back into your sport can tempt you to rush back onto your feet … but resist that temptation. 

Our board-certified podiatrists and ankle surgeons at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists want you to know that rest isn’t optional when you’re nursing an ankle sprain. 

Below, we take a look at the importance of rest when you have a sprained ankle.

What happens when you sprain your ankle?

Before we explain the importance of resting your ankle, let’s first talk about what happens when you sprain your ankle. 

Sprains happen when you overstretch the ligaments in your ankle. Ligaments have an important job: They are fibrous tissues that connect bones with other bones, which means they play a big role in creating stability by preventing too much side-to-side motion.

Depending on how much you stretch your ligaments, your ankle instability can vary from mild to severe. Sprains are classified as grade 1, 2, or 3. Grade 1 refers to stretching only, grade 2 refers to a partial ligament tear, and a grade 3 sprain has stretched to the point of fully tearing.

Resting isn’t optional: It’s the key to healing

Regardless of which type of sprain you have, don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to rest, because:  

Rest prevents further injury to your ankle

Even if you have a mild sprain, we recommend that you follow the RICE protocol. Rest is the first component of this protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. 

A sprained ankle is unstable, and using your ankle before it has properly healed increases the risk that you’ll stretch the ligaments even more.

Rest helps you heal more efficiently 

We know that busy schedules can make it very tempting to push through the pain, but remember that resting can prevent a minor sprain from turning into a more serious one. In other words, if you take the time to rest and heal, you can get back up and running sooner in the long run.

Resting complements other treatments

Whether you need a brace or even surgery, rest plays a key part in your treatment plan. After ankle surgery, for example, you can expect to elevate your limb for the first several days after your surgery. This also helps reduce pain and swelling. 

During this time, you also need to keep the incision site clean and dry. Not only is physical rest important, but too much stress can prolong your healing. In other words, mental and physical rest speeds recovery from any injury or surgery, and that includes sprained ankles.

Rest prepares you for building back your strength

Of course, you can’t (and shouldn’t) remain on the couch forever. But resting your ankle and giving it the time and space to heal better prepares you to ease back into using your ankle again. 

Physical therapy can be a big part of your ankle sprain treatments. Once we clear you for exercising, knowing that you gave yourself time and space to rest can make your physical therapy sessions more effective.

Rest reduces your risk for chronic ankle pain 

Placing weight on your ankle before it's ready can prevent your ligaments from healing properly, and unfortunately, when torn ligaments don’t heal properly, you’re at risk for developing:

If you think you’ve suffered an ankle sprain, contact our board-certified foot and ankle surgeons here at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists in southeastern Florida. Our team is ready to help get you on the road to a full recovery.

Call the location of your choice or request an appointment online to get the ankle care you need. We have offices in Boca Raton, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Plantation, and Fort Lauderdale.

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