Q: When my husband sprained his ankle, he stayed in bed and did not move his ankle for more than a week. Was this a good idea?
A: Probably not.
To reduce swelling after such an injury, the ankle should be elevated above the level of the heart, and an ice pack or frozen gel pack should be applied to the area for 15 to 20 minutes. This should be repeated every two to three waking hours for the first 48 to 72 hours. It also usually helps to immobilize the ankle by using a brace, such as an Aircast Air-Stirrup ankle brace, until the swelling lessens and strength returns. A few days after the injury, it’s wise to begin gentle range-of-motion exercises, such as tracing letters of the alphabet with the big toe of the foot with the injured ankle, followed by strength training (under a doctor’s or physical therapist’s supervision) to reduce the likelihood of reinjury. The healing process takes two to four weeks for most ankle sprains — up to three months for more severe sprains.