When you happen to twist or turn your ankle in an awkward and undesirable manner, you may get what is called a sprained ankle. Now what is the undesirable manner of moving your ankle? For this, you need to know what are ligaments and how they protect your ankles. Ligaments are the tough bands of tissues that help in holding your ankle bones together. Ligaments are present in your joints to stabilize them. They also prevent excessive movement of the joints and this is why you cannot rotate your joints altogether. However, when you try to do this, knowingly or unknowingly, the ligaments are forced to move beyond their normal range of motion and this is when they get injured leading to a sprained ankle. In most of the cases, self care with certain home remedies for sprained ankle can take care of your injured ligaments. However, sometimes the damage to your ankle ligaments may be severe and for this you might need to see your doctor to know how badly your ankle has sprained. For the non-serious sprains, here are some home remedies.
I. RICE Technique for Sprained Ankle
This is the first-aid treatment when you get a sprained ankle- RICE- which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. When you do all this in the first 48 hours, the time needed to recover gets shortened. It also helps in alleviating the symptoms of sprained ankle like swelling, internal bleeding, pain and general discomfort. Here’s what you must do.
Give your ankle rest by avoiding any activity that may cause pain, swelling etc. This doesn’t mean, you have to be on bed rest. Just that you need to avoid using the muscles and tissues of the injured area as afar as possible. For example, if you walk for a long distances usually, avoid such walking. While exercising, don’t use the injured leg. For example, cycle using the other leg. Do hand exercises while sitting. The idea is to still move your body but avoid moving the sprained ankle.
If you apply ice immediately after injuring your ankle, there are chances that you may not get any swelling. Applying ice or a cold pack every 1-2 hours for 10-20 minutes is desirable to reduce pain and swelling. You must repeat this ice treatment for the first 24-48 hours. Ice is perhaps the most efficient method to reduce inflammation and pain associated with increased blood flow or blood loss. However, don’t apply ice directly to your skin. Always wrap the ice in a cloth or a towel. If the area around your sprained ankle turns white, stop applying any remedy including ice and visit your doctor. Also if you suffer from some vascular disease, diabetes or have decreased sense of sensation, consult your doctor before you give yourself an ice treatment.
Wrapping your affected area with an elastic bandage helps reduce swelling. Wrapping a bandage too tightly, however can result into adverse effect by hampering proper blood circulation. Elastic bandages, when not purposefully tied tightly, can give you exact compression without hindering circulation. Sometimes, however, you pain might increase after wrapping the injured area. If this happens, loosen the bandage some more or remove it altogether. Pay a visit to your doctor.
Elevating your leg with sprained ankle reduces swelling by increasing venous return of blood to your systemic circulation which helps avoid accumulation of fluid. Keep your leg elevated while sitting or lying down. When you lie down, use pillows and cushions to elevate your leg and keep it above the level of your heart.
II. Natural Remedies for Sprained Ankle
5. Turmeric for Sprained Ankle
Turmeric has been used since ages to treat swelling and pain for its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. It has been a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for inflammation of joints and joint pains. The most important compound of turmeric is curcumin. Researches have shown that curcumin eliminates nitric oxide and inhibits COX-2 which is a pro-inflammatory substance. Using turmeric can give you relief from the associated discomforts of sprained ankle.
- Turmeric- 1-2 tsp
- Add enough water to turmeric to get a smooth paste.
- Warm this paste a little.
- Apply this to your sprained ankle, preferably at night.
- Wrap a cloth or an elastic bandage over this turmeric poultice.
- If not applying at night, let it sit for at least 1-2 hours.
- Wash off with lukewarm water.
- Remember, turmeric will leave stains on anything which comes to its contact.
6. Arnica for Sprained Ankle
You name arnica and you are reminded of the excellent sports medicine. It is also the most used homeopathic treatment for swellings and pain. Arnica, a mountain herb, belongs to the sunflower family and is often used for sprains, muscle pains, dislocation, bruises, wounds etc. Arnica has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties along with the capability to expel excess fluids from joints and muscles. It can be commonly found in form of cream, ointment, salve, oil, or tincture as well as tablets or pellets to relieve sore muscles and tissues. However, you can make arnica salve at home for keeping it all natural!
How to Make Arnica Salve for Sprains?
- Dried arnica montana flowers- 1- ½ cups
- Coconut oil- 2 cups
- Beeswax granules- ½ cup
- Essential oil (any like rosemary or peppermint)- ¼ tsp
- Lavender essential oil- ¼ tsp
- Double boiler or a crock pot
- Mason jar
- This recipe needs arnica to be infused in coconut oil for 12-24 hours to get its maximum benefit.
- Take the arnica flowers and crunch them up with your hands.
- Place the herb in the double boiler or crock pot whatever you are using.
- Pour coconut oil to cover the herb altogether.
- Cover and allow it to infuse on low heat if using double boiler and on warm setting if using crock pot.
- Let them sit for 12-24 hours. You may stir in between several times.
- Ensure the flowers remain submerged into the oil and it does not get too hot.
- After 12-24 hours, turn off your instrument and allow the mixture of oil and herb cool down for about 1 hour.
- While the coconut oil is still in liquid form, place the cheesecloth over the jar and pour the oil mixture over it.
- After straining arnica, place the infused oil again into the double boiler and set it to low heat.
- Now add the beeswax and whisk till it gets dissolved.
- After the whole things melts into the oil, remove it from heat and allow to cool down for a while and mix the essential oils.
- Store the salve in your choice of container.
- Apply it on your sprained ankle when required.
[Also Read: Home Remedies for Joint Pain Relief]
7. Sweet Marjoram Oil for Sprained Ankle
Sweet marjoram oil is extracted Origanum marjorana, a tender bushy perennial herb. This essential oil has many therapeutic properties which include its analgesic, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties that come to your rescue when you suffer from pain and swelling of sprained ankle. Due to its muscle relaxant and pain killing properties, sweet marjoram oil id used extensively to treat rheumatic pains and sprains, strains and spasms to relieve swollen joints and painful muscles.
- Sweet marjoram oil- few drops
- Cold water
- Foot basin
- Add sweet marjoram oil to a basin full of of cold water
- Soak a towel in this water.
- Wring out the excess water.
- Place this towel onto your sprained ankle.
8. White Willow Bark for Pain from Sprain
The natural pain relieving herb, white willow bark, contains salicin. Salicin gets converted into salicylic acid once it enters your body. Salicylic acid is the natural compound which relieves pain and inflammation. Salicylic acid functions like the active ingredient of aspirin called acetylsalicylic acid. The inner bark of willows has compounds called phenolic glycoside esters. When you take the bark internally, the microorganisms in your intestine transform these compounds to saligenin. Saligenin is then oxidized in the liver and blood, producing salicylic acid. Salicylic acid reduces pain by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins in your sensory nerves. You may have white willow bark tea or tincture to relieve pain due to your sprained ankle. Tea made from powdered willow bark, however, is too weak and you will need to have too much of it to have some effect. You may also make tincture from white willow bark.
How to Make White Willow Bark Tincture?
- White willow bark- 1/5 parts
- Grain alcohol- 4/5 parts
- A Quart jar with lid
- Dark colored bottles, preferably with droppers
- Place white willow bark into the jar.
- Fill the jar to the top with grain alcohol.
- Shake it well.
- Place the jar in some cool and dark place for 2-3 months.
- Then strain using cheesecloth.
- Pour in dark bottles to store. Label them well.
- Store the bottles in clean dark place away from sun but do not place them in refrigerator.
- Whenever you need to get relief from pain, like when you get sprained ankle, take 30-60 drops (depending upon the intensity of pain) in a glass.
- Dilute the tincture drops with water and have it 3-4 times a day.
Precaution: White willow bark can thin blood. If you are taking blood thinners, do not use this herb. Don’t give this herb to children.
9. Rosemary for Sprained Ankle
Apart from having antioxidants, rosemary herb has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that can get you rid of sprained ankle too. When your body tissues are damaged, like when you get sprained ankle, the white blood cells produce chemicals to get rid of the damage and there is an increased blood flow towards the damaged site. Certain fluids also rush to the affected area. This leads to redness and swelling. Rosemary contains this rush of blood and fluid as more of it does harm than good. A tincture made from rosemary leaves can be topically applied to your sprained ankle.
How to Make Rosemary Tincture?
- Rosemary leaves
- Grain alcohol
- A jar
- Dark glass bottles
- Chop enough rosemary leaves to almost fill up your jar.
- Place the chopped rosemary leaves into the jar.
- Top it with grain alcohol.
- Cover it with the lid and place in a dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks.
- After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs using cheesecloth.
- Store this rosemary leaves tincture in dark bottles.
- Apply on your sprains or strains whenever required.
10. Lemongrass Oil for Sprained Ankle
Lemongrass Essential Oil has analgesic, antiseptic, astringent, anti-bacterial, fungicidal properties among many others. It helps relieve pain in muscles and joints such as those from sprains. It has this very useful property of regenerating connective tissues and ligaments and thus is a perfect remedy for sprained ankle. Its antiseptic properties will also heal wounds, if any that you got while injuring your ankle. It also has astringent properties to help stop the bleeding from wounds. Astringents can constrict blood vessels reducing the flow of blood. However, it should always be diluted with some carrier oil before applying to the sprained area otherwise it may cause rashes in some people with sensitive skin.
- Lemongrass oil- 1 part
- Olive oil- 4 parts
- Add lemongrass oil to the olive oil and mix well.
- Apply this to your sprained ankle and rub gently for a couple of minutes.
- Repeat 3-4 times a day.
11. White Fir Essential Oil for Sprained Ankle
White fir oil is not only a very powerful antioxidant due to its d-limonene content but is also a strong anti-inflammatory. It is extensively and successfully used for sore and tired muscles as well as joints, especially for their pains due to swelling.
- White fir oil- 1 part
- Any vegetable oil- 1 part
- Mix both the oils
- Pour few drops of mixed oil onto affected area.
- Rub gently for a couple of minutes.
- Repeat 2-4 times a day.
12. Helichrysum Essential Oil for Sprained Ankle
Helichrysum has anti-hematomatic (the one which prevents blood clots), tissue regenerative, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Your tissues suffer minor tears which leads to the damage of the cells in connective tissue. Some cells even die and they require to be grown again. The damaged capillaries also lead to blood leakage which gives you swelling and wounds. Due to all its properties, helichrysum oil acts against the secondary damage due to free radicals, reduce the tension of tissues, reduces pain and regenerates new tissues.
- Get helichrysum oil, preferably made from helichrysum italicum flowers.
- Apply helichrysum oil directly to your injured area 1-2 times a day.
- You may also blend it with such oils as hazelnut and rosehip seed oil and then apply.
13. Ginger Remedy for Sprained Ankle
Ginger has many properties that are beneficial to overall health and that’s why it occupies such an important place not only in cuisines but in traditional medicine too. Along with being a fine antioxidant, ginger also has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Its anti-inflammatory compounds are called gingerols. Gingerols are so effective that they are also used to reduce pain due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. You can prepare a warm compress with ginger to give you relief from sprained ankle but remember do it only after 2-3 days of having injured your leg because warm compresses may harm you if done immediately after getting sprain. At that time only ice and cold compresses work.
1st Way to Use Ginger: Warm Compress
- Fresh ginger root- 2-3 inch piece
- Water- 6-8 cups
- Slice the ginger root.
- Place the sliced ginger pieces in a pot.
- Pour the water over them.
- Let it boil for 5-7 minutes.
- Allow it to cool down until it becomes warm.
- Soak a wash cloth in this warm ginger water.
- Wrap it on your ankle.
- Keep the water warm. Too hot water may damage tissues and irritate your skin.
Precaution: Once again take note of this. Do not use warm compress before 2-3 days of injuring your ankle.
2nd Way to Use Ginger: Poultice
- Dry ginger powder- 3-4 tbsp
- Add enough water to ginger powder so that you get a smooth paste.
- You may also use fresh ginger root to make paste. Just grind it with some water.
- Now apply this to your swollen ankle.
- The paste will dry off in sometime. You may also use a bandage to keep the paste on place.
- Leave it for 6-7 hours.
- Wash off. Your swelling will reduce to a great extent.
- If needed, repeat it again. You may also apply this at night before going to bed.
14. Aloe Vera for Sprained Ankle
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and excellent healing properties due to which this herb is also widely used for sports injuries including swelling and joint pain, soreness of muscles, tendonitis, strains, sprains, bruises, itching and sunburn etc. Aloe vera also has analgesic properties and eases pain as well as promotes repair of the damaged tissues.
- Aloe vera leaf
- Gauze or towel
- Ice (optional)
- Glycerin (optional)
- Cut open the aloe leaf to expose its gel.
- Soak the gauze in this gel.
- Wrap the gauze onto the sprained ankle.
- You can even use ice along with aloe gel.
- For this, soak the towel with aloe gel and place ice in this towel. Now use this pack on your ankle.
- When you see that gauze or towel is drying out, soak it again in aloe gel and re apply.
- Do this for about 30-60 minutes.
- You can even apply aloe gel directly on the affected area.
- In this case, if you find the aloe gel too thin and if it runs off the skin, add some glycerin to make it a little thicker.
15. Essential Oils Blends for Sprained Ankle
There are many essential oils that have a variety of properties to soothe your pain and swelling. While you can always use one or two oils to relieve your discomforts, blending a variety of anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and rejuvenating essential oils can speed up your recovery and heal your sprained ankle faster. Here are some suggestions for you to blend various essential oils.
Oil Blend 1:
These oils are clinically proven and effective in reducing swelling and redness due to inflammation.
- German Chamomile oil
- Lavender oil
- Clove oil
Oil Blend 2:
These oils give you immediate relief from pain by inhibiting sensory receptors in the brain. They inhibit prostagladins that send pain signals to the brain.
- Frankincense oil
- Wintergreen oil
- Peppermint oil
- Clove bud oil
- Ginger oil
- To use the above oil blends, take 1-3 drops of each oil and mix them with a carrier oil. You make take 1-2 tsp of such carrier oils as olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
- Gently massage your sprained ankle with this oil blend for a couple of minutes.
- Repeat 1-3 times a day depending upon the severity of your sprained ankle.
Anytime you feel that some or the other oil doesn’t suit you, stop using it. You may consult a medical herbalist to get a right blend of oils for your individual set of symptoms related to sprained ankle. Consult your doctor before using any remedy.