How to Get Around With a Sprained Ankle
The Sprained Ankle
Do you have a sprained or broken ankle? Maybe you just twisted your ankle and don't yet know the extent of the damage. You may even have a totally different issue inhibiting your ability to walk, such as foot surgery or a broken toe. Either way, you are probably miserable right now. It is not easy getting around during this most painful time.
As I write this article, I am sitting in bed with a sprained ankle. I am happy to share some of my suggestions for how to get around effectively with this kind of injury. After all, it's not like I'm getting very far on this ankle.
I realize there are different levels of pain and swelling for each person. Also, there are different types of sprains you can experience. The most important thing you can do if you believe you have a sprain or a broken ankle is to go to the doctor to get it checked out. I was certain due to the golf ball size swelling I experienced and that painful snap I heard when I fell that my foot was broken. Luckily, after a few X-rays and a lot of whining, I found out I had a sprained ankle. You should do the same since I am no doctor and I am not going to even attempt to help you self-diagnose your injury.
After finding out your foot diagnosis, you may be given crutches, a cane, a boot, ankle brace, a cast, bandages, or any combination of some of these things. Since I feel there are still many more details that need to be covered so you are successful at being mobile, I decided to share what I have learned so far.
Use Something to Keep You Steady
I am sure I am not the only person in the world with an ankle injury that got wrapped up in some bandages, given an ankle brace and a boot, and then sent on my way. This is fine if you can keep your balance and hobble over to wherever you need to go in a semi-efficient manner. After all, I had a sprained ankle years ago and never even needed an ankle brace. But those were different times... the good old days with me and my ankle as I would like to think of it. This injury is far more severe. I could not manage without a little help.
You basically need to find some crutches or a cane. Yeah, you might feel silly, but those first few days are rotten. Please keep in mind you should stay off your ankle as much as humanly possible the first few days. However, let's keep it real here. You've got to use the bathroom. You have to be able to go to the kitchen every now and then to pity yourself and eat lots of chocolate. You deserve it!
My suggestion would be to borrow some crutches or a cane from someone else. If all else fails, many drug stores sell that type of thing. I happened to have a cane at my home due to some co-workers giving me "old people gifts" when I turned 30. Yeah, yeah, it might have been all in good humor then, but they should just check me out with my cane. I am strutting... well, not really... wobbling from room to room like a champ now. So do yourself a favor and get something to help you walk until the swelling goes down and the pain subsides.
By the way, some people will recommend a wheelchair or one of those motorized handicapped carts you see people rolling around in at the grocery store. Personally, I do think it is best for you to be as independent as possible. Try to walk unless you absolutely must rely on something with wheels. But don't get too used to it! You should try to keep your strength in your legs as much as possible... although it might be fun to roll around inWalmart a bit on one of the motorized carts, I must admit.
Inevitably you will realize you are thirsty the second you sit down and can't get back up. Don't make this mistake. I've learned the hard way that when you are unsteady on your feet, liquids are not your friends. What you need to do is make sure to get a water bottle and tightly screw the cap on. If you don't have a water bottle, go out and buy one now. If you can't get out of your bed, have someone else get one for you. It is important!
The type of water bottleI recommend is the kind with the top attached to it. It basically has a loop from the bottle to the cap when the cap is closed. The reason I recommend this is because it is easy to hold on to while you are stumbling along from the kitchen to your bed or couch. Also, some of those water bottles hold a lot of water so it is not likely you will have to refill it for a while. While you are walking along, you want to make that journey as smooth as possible. Having a water bottle that is easy to carry is the best way to do that.
Get a Basket or Bag
I never realized how much stuff I needed just to sit around. When you are stuck in bed with a sprained ankle, you need items like:
- Water bottle
- Ice pack
- Salt and pepper shakers
- Remote controls
- Tablet and/or laptop
- And more random stuff that I would have imagined.
Since you should not rely on someone else to deliver all of these items to you, eventually you are going to have to go fetch them yourself. This is why you need a bag, basket, small backpack, small shower caddy, etc. to help you out. You do not want to get anything too heavy because that is simply going to weigh you down and you might end up in worse shape. This is especially the case if you decide to put a heavy backpack on your back. You will end up falling over and rolling around on the floor like an injured turtle on his back. That is just a sad sight. Don't do it.
Something small and light is perfect for someone with an injured ankle. You can tote around all the small items you need at that time and you won't have to make several trips. If all else fails, even just a simple shopping bag will do. Any bag with a handle will help as long as you don't put too much in it.
Don't let this be you!
This Journey is Nearly Over
Eventually after having adventures with a standard ankle/leg brace, you might want to buy a different type of brace that offers support, but is not as restricting as the leg brace a doctor's office gives you. Make sure to hobble your way to the aisle at your local drug store that has bandages, ice packs, heating pads, and braces. You will be surprised at the variety of items you can purchase for you ankle to help you "graduate" to the next level of healing. Also, you may find you want to try to applying heat after a week or so to help your joints a bit. You will be able to move a little better.
I hope this helps you become a little bit more mobile during your ankle injury. Just keep in mind, eventually everyone heals, so there is no need to get too carried away. Don't hire someone to start building a ramp outside your house for this injury, no matter how much it makes sense now. Climb those steps one at a time and make as few trips as humanly possible.
After a few days, your balance should be better, the swelling will be down, and you might just be able to function in a semi-normal way. No, you won't be ballet dancing anytime soon, but you will probably be able to walk to the bathroom down the hall in less than five minutes. Good luck to you and try to avoid running over people at the grocery store if you do opt to use a motorized cart!
Sprained Ankle Tips
- Stay off your ankle as much as possible.
- Take a couple of sick days from work.
- Keep medicine, water, snacks, phone, and other necessities close by.
- Make sure to apply ice to keep swelling down.
- Use crutches or cane if needed the first few days.
- Wear a sock over those bandages to help them stay in place.
- "Stumble proof" your home; remove anything that might make you trip.
- Find many forms of entertainment so you will not get up too much... books, computer, On Demand programs on the TV, etc.
- Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge. It might take you 10 minutes to get there!
- Remember that eventually you will get better!