A sprained ankle is a common injury seen by doctors. It is the result of stretched or even torn ligaments of your ankle. The severity of the injury depends on the extent of damage and the number of injured ligaments. Your sprained ankle usually will swell and hurt following the injury. However, if your sprained ankle is still swollen after 2 weeks, it may indicate that you need to take the injury more seriously. What could be happening and how should you deal with the condition?
Should a Sprained Ankle Still Swollen After 2 Weeks Be a Concern?
If your sprained ankle is still swollen two weeks later, it needs to be seen by a doctor who will order for tests to rule out complications such as an ankle fracture. The doctor, preferably a foot and ankle specialist, will also advice you on how to reduce the swelling and prescribe pain killers if necessary.
But irrespective of how long you have had a sprained ankle, consult your doctor in the following circumstances:
- Your ankle is extremely painful or is bruised.
- Your ankle can’t move or the ankle joint bends abnormally.
- You have a numb or tingling feeling in your hurt ankle or foot.
- You are unable to walk, stand or put weight on your injured foot.
- Your injured ankle has not improved for one week.
- You feel pain and notice some swelling, bruising or redness in any part of your leg or groin. Any of these signs could indicate the presence of a blood clot.
- You have fever of 100 oF or more.
Why Does a Sprained Ankle Swell After the Injury?
Like other joints, the ankle joint is surrounded by the lining of a capsule known as synovium that normally produces synovial fluid. Whenever there is irritation within the joint, the synovium secrets excess fluid. A sprained ankle still swollen after 2 weeks indicates that irritation is still present. Outward swelling is a result of swollen soft tissue and the increased fluid within the joint itself. In the case of a sprained ankle, swelling can occur as a result of several reasons including the following:
- Bone chip happens when a piece of bone, knocked loose at the time of injury, floats around within the joint or the surrounding tissue.
- Bruised bone can cause an achy pain that lasts for months. The bruise is accompanied by fluid (edema) in the bones and is only diagnosed by an MRI. The condition usually fades away gradually and is rarely severe.
- Chronic synovitis is the damage on the surface of the joint that does not show up on x-ray or MRI, but causes chronic irritation, excess fluid and swelling.
- OCD lesion is just similar to a tooth cavity. It occurs when an injury leaves a cavity (hole) on the surface of the talus (ankle bone) with a piece of dead bone within it. OCD lesion can be picked up by an MRI.
How to Relieve the Swelling of a Sprained Ankle
While it is not uncommon to have a sprained ankle still swollen after 2 weeks, you can easily manage most of the swelling at home in the following ways:
1. R.I.C.E Method
R.I.C.E stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is a simple and common way to manage swelling in the foot, ankle, tennis elbow, etc.
- Rest the swollen ankle and foot by minimizing walking and reducing pressure on the area when you have to walk.
- Ice your affected ankle and foot using a cold pack. You can make an ice pack by placing some ice cubes in a bag or use frozen veggies. Shape the ice pack so that it has contact with as much of the swollen area as possible. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and repeat every few hours.
- Compress the injured ankle using a snug wrap or bandage, making sure not to cut circulation or cause more pain. This will stabilize the ankle and reduce swelling.
- Elevate your affected ankle by lying down on the floor, a couch or in bed so that the affected area is slightly above the heart. This will further reduce swelling.
2. Home Remedies to Reduce Swelling
- Crutches. Have you used crutches in the past and still have them at home? Use them when walking to reduce pressure on your injured ankle and foot.
- Water. Drink water throughout the day to encourage removal of fluids from the body.
- Vinegar. Soothe the affected area using equal amounts of vinegar and warm water. Soak a towel and wrap around the swollen ankle and foot. Leave it on for five minutes.
- Cucumber. Place slices of cucumber on the swollen area, using a bandage to hold them in place. Leave them on for thirty minutes. Cucumber absorbs excess fluids and soothes the swelling.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E is anti-inflammatory and will help reduce swelling. Eat foods rich in vitamin E such as sweet potatoes, spinach, almond oil and sunflower seeds.
- Less Salt. Salt can increase fluid retention. Avoid or reduce your salt intake to hasten recovery of your swollen ankle.
3. Over-The-Counter Remedies
The following OTC remedies can help manage your swollen ankle:
- Aspirin and Ibuprofen, the non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs relieve pain and help reduce the swelling.
- Acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, reduces pain following injury and through the recovery period.
You Are Not Alone
I fell and sprained my ankle two weeks ago and it is still swollen and painful. The toes and the arch area are bruised. At the beginning, the whole foot was swollen, but this has reduced, except for my ankle and the area underneath. My injured foot seems thicker than the other one. Is it normal to have my sprained ankle still swollen after 2 weeks?
I am distressed. 2 weeks ago, I got a sprained foot as I slid into second base. At the hospital they said it’s a bad sprain and they gave me crutches. A week later I could walk but I limped a bit. I know about RICE method and I’ve been using it. Now there’s little pain, but I have a sprained ankle still swollen after 2 weeks. It goes down a bit, then comes back up. When I press the area, a kind of dent forms, lasting 5 secs. And a white mark lasting 2 secs. forms when I run a finger across. The swelling’s located in my ankle area and across the front of my foot. How can I get it back to normal?