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How I Get Around With a Sprained Ankle

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. Here are some tips that will help you till you're back on your feet.

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. Here are some tips that will help you till you're back on your feet.

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 experienced swelling the size of a golf ball and a painful snap when I fell. 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, an 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 that you are successful at being mobile, I decided to share what I have learned so far.

Strutting . . . well . . . more like wobbling, but whatever.

Strutting . . . well . . . more like wobbling, but whatever.

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 during 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 in Walmart a bit on one of the motorized carts, I must admit.

A good water bottle for this situation.

A good water bottle for this situation.

Water Bottle

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 bottle I 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 them 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
  • Medicine
  • Ice pack
  • Snacks
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Remote controls
  • Tablet and/or laptop
  • Phone
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Books
  • And more random stuff than I would have imagined.
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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.

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 your ankle to help you "graduate" to the next level of healing. Also, you may find you want to try 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 that 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 a 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!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 13, 2013:

I can't wait to wear real shoes again! Yes, it is such a nuisance. Thanks for your comment and the well wishes!

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 12, 2013:

A sprained ankle is just irritating. I bet you can't wait to get out there and enjoy again. Let's just hope you don't find yourself in the same situation again in the future.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 12, 2013:

You are so right, Weekend Reader. Never were truer words spoken! I am adding that to my tips list. Thank you!

Cindy D Whipany on August 12, 2013:

Don't wait until the last minute to decide you need to go to the bathroom, either.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 10, 2013:

time2rite -I think I need to incorporate heat into this situation now. The ice does not seem to help as much now. Thanks for the advice!

carol7777 - Thanks for the comment. This sprained ankle is no fun.

carol stanley from Arizona on August 09, 2013:

I have sprained an ankle and it was no fun. You have some good survival ideas here... Thanks for sharing all of this.

Kathryne Waller from Knoxville, TN USA on August 08, 2013:

Jeannieinabottle, I hope you get well soon! I had the misfortune of twisting my ankle, to the tune of a loud "pop", last fall...ouch! I was hiking and got a burst of energy and bounded through the woods (big mistake). I have to say though, I got some wicked air before the "snap" landing, lol!

You have included some great ideas in this piece. I would also recommend alternating heat and ice; works wonders on the pain and swelling, as does using an ace bandage. I decided not to go to the doc but to use magnetic therapy along with R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate :-)

I'm happy to say I am fully healed and back in my flip-flops and heels, but no more jumping while hiking in the woods for me!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 08, 2013:

drbj - I am trying not to overdo it, but I did go back to work yesterday. Luckily, I had vacation days planned for the rest of the week. Unluckily, I will not be going anywhere fun for vacation like planned because limping around Hersheypark is simply a sad sight. Thanks for the chocolate advice... I will definitely do that. :-)

randomcreative - Thanks so much! I would not have thought about the bottle until this happened. Let's just say I really literally almost cried over spilled milk, so I had to start using a bottle. Hehe.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 07, 2013:

So sorry, Jeannie! I hope that you're managing all right. Thanks for all of the tips. I never would have thought of some of these ideas, like using a water bottle. Great job here and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 07, 2013:

Aww, Jeannie, pore baby. Be a good patient now and don't overdo it. The good news is you didn't break a bone in your foot. The bad news is that often a sprain seems to take longer to heal than a break. Just sayin'.

And most important - make sure that tote bag you use has plenty of chocolate. Dark chocolate will help you heal faster! Heh, heh.

Then again, mebbe not, but you will feel better. Guaranteed!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 07, 2013:

lambservant - You are so right! ;-)

Nell Rose - I can't imagine having sprains all the time. It must be miserable. I've heard once you get a bad sprain, you are prone to getting them more often then. I guess I have that to look forward to now. Shesh! Thanks for your support and stay safe and sprain free!

Nell Rose from England on August 07, 2013:

Hi Jeannie, ouch! I feel sorry for you, I have sprained my ankles so many times in my life it's a wonder that I can walk at all! lol! great advice, and yes keeping food and drink handy certainly saves on the poor leg, the last time I did this I ended up in A and E, they xrayed it, then sent me home with a small bandage! my leg took ages to heal, nell

Lori Colbo from United States on August 07, 2013:

Jeannie, be sure and milk it all for all its worth. Lol!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 07, 2013:

Thank you, Linda. I think it is at hipbone level but I will check. I am kind of short so I don't think I need a very big cane. I have tiny feet too... the girl bandaging me up at Patient First was surprised at the size of my feet. Hehe. Thanks again! I appreciate it!

Wow, that is not cool, lambservant. Of course all you have to do is ask, but it is nice not to have to ask. My boyfriend has been pretty good about getting stuff for me, but I think he feels guilty about the whole situation. I was chasing his dog in his yard when it happened. It totally wasn't his fault, but hey, at least he was more than willing to pick up Burger King food for me and get me chocolate because of it. :-) Thanks for your comment!

Lori Colbo from United States on August 07, 2013:

Years ago I broke my ankle very badly. Talk about pain. I had surgery on it and was convalescing at home. My then husband would make himself a snack, make coffee, or prepare himself a meal without asking me if I would like some? I could not walk on crutches and carry food or drinks. He said "All you have to do is ask," when I complained. Well that's true, but a gentleman would ask if I wanted some.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 07, 2013:

We're at Physical Therapy right now, I mentioned your hub. Dave's PT wanted me to also mention that the can should be set at hipbone level. Many people use it at a lower level and they slouch. Glad I was able to help :)

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 07, 2013:

Thanks so much for the info, Linda. I have been using it wrong, too. Today I am trying to go completely cane-free since I am at work, but I have it just in case. I will definitely switch to my right hand now. And yeah, those shoes are amazing for the beach... the sand and water does not bother them at all! I am going to stop wearing them otherwise though. It is a sad day when I must give up the jelly shoes.

Thank you!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 06, 2013:

Ouch!! I hope you are up and running again soon! Something I recently learned with using a cane...use it with your opposite hand. If you sprained your left ankle, the cane is used with your right hand. Dave was using it wrong until his Physical Therapist pointed it out. It's a common mistake made by many. Good luck! You might wanna trade in your jelly shoes!:)

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on August 06, 2013:

billybuc - I have to say I am a little jealous, Bill. I suspect I know why this happened to me and not you. I was wearing plastic jelly shoes in the rain and running after a dog. I've walked miles in Nikes, but running in jelly shoes, well that is just asking for it. Sigh. Thanks for checking out my hub and keep staying lucky and sprain free. :-)

Kevina Oyatedor - It is really tough when no one else is around to help. It is interesting to learn how much stuff you use on a regular basis and how much walking is involved. Thanks for your comment.

Kevina Oyatedor on August 06, 2013:

This was awesome. I sprained my ankle before and i had to go around on my own if my family wasn't home.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2013:

You know, Jeannie, I was talking to Bev the other day about this. I played competitive sports for decades. I've hiked and climbed mountains...and I have never had a sprained ankle or a broken bone. I find that almost the hell did I stay so lucky?

Having said that I'm sure I'll sprain my ankle today. LOL

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