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Treating Painful Swellings Like A Sprained Ankle: Top Remedies

by Dr Don Grant (MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip Orth Med)

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

Spraining an ankle is unfortunately all too easy. A slip here, a wrong foot there — a twisted ankle can be just around the corner if you’re not careful. They’re painful, uncomfortable and a huge inconvenience. As such, a sprained ankle should be treated right away to stop it from developing into something worse. Stop the injury and deaden the pain with our pain-busting tips & learn more about how to treat a swollen and sprained ankle.


What is a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is an injury that happens when your ankle is awkwardly twisted or rolled. It causes the tissue surrounding your ankle to be stretched or torn, which can be very painful. It can stop you from walking and can take weeks to heal properly. It can make wearing shoes painful and difficult. 


What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?

If you have an ankle injury that you are concerned might be a twisted ankle, check for the following symptoms:

  • Pain or tenderness around your foot or ankle
  • You cannot stand or put weight on the injured ankle
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Painful cramps or tightening of the muscle


What is the difference between a sprained ankle and a broken ankle?

A broken ankle occurs when one or more of the ankle bones are fractured following an injury. A sprained ankle happens when only the ankle ligaments have been damaged. While fractured ankles require immediate medical attention, twisted ankles can be treated at home.


How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal?

Most mild ankle injuries take anywhere from 5 to 14 days to heal. However, more severe ankle sprains can take from 4 to 6 weeks to fully heal.


Can sprained ankles get infected?

Twisted ankles will only get affected if the skin has been broken during the injury. Signs of an infection include:

  • Increased pain, swelling or warmth around the injury
  • Presence of pus around the injury
  • Fever
  • Reddish patches around the injury


When should I visit a doctor with a sprained ankle?

Ankle sprains can be treated at home following the below RICE method. However, if you have treated your twisted ankle already and the swelling has still not gone down after 2-3 days, your ankle sprain could be a broken ankle. You must, therefore, consult a doctor as soon as possible to confirm. 


How to treat a sprained ankle

If you have suffered a twisted ankle, the first few hours are vital for treating it. Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller like Naproxen regularly to help manage your ankle pain. Most doctors recommend the RICE method of treating injured ankles, as follows:



Immediately stop any strenuous activities that will put pressure or strain on your twisted ankle. 



Apply an ice pack to your sprained ankle for up to 20 minutes every 2-3 hours. A pack of frozen vegetables in a tea towel will also work if you do not have an ice pack handy. This will help reduce ankle swelling.



Wrap a bandage snugly around the injured ankle, but not too tight that you feel numbness or a tingling sensation. Loosen or remove it entirely when you go to bed.


Be sure to elevate your sprained ankle as much as you can. During the day use a stool to rest your twisted ankle, and use a cushion or pillow while in bed.


After 2-3 days

After two to three days of using RICE therapy to treat your injured ankle, if you only suffered a mild sprain, it should feel well enough for you to use it again. 

However, if your ankle injury was more severe, then you may need to continue using RICE treatment until it has healed. If the swelling and pain have still not reduced, consult your doctor.


Twisted ankles can be painful and debilitating, and can happen almost anywhere. But most ankle injuries can be easily treated at home using the RICE method detailed above. Be sure to use a painkiller to reduce the pain and swelling associated with your sprained ankle. If you’re still concerned and want some friendly advice, speak to our online doctor today.

Authored By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Published on: 27-06-2018

Last modified on: 27-06-2018

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Scott McDougall

Scott McDougall


Reviewed on: 27-06-2020

Next review date: 27-06-2022

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

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