Following breaking a bone in an ankle, which has not been subject to surgery, what timescale following the injury is it applicable to continue using ice packs to reduce swelling.
Thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear that you broke your ankle. Without doing a thorough examination I’m not able to comment at length on your specific condition. Fractures typically take at least 8 weeks to heal. This can vary depending on the nature of the fracture, and other factors such as the age and health status of the individual. Swelling can persist well after a fracture heals.
After an injury, ice can be helpful for the first week during the inflammation phase to help with pain and swelling. Icing can continue beyond the first week as needed to help with pain management. It’s not clear that icing beyond the first week or so after an injury will have a significant impact with swelling. Often, we recommend other strategies such as movement and elevating the limb above the heart to help reduce swelling. After an ankle injury it is often suggested that patients try to spell the alphabet with their foot while it is elevated. This helps to activate muscles around the ankle, decrease swelling, and improve range of motion.
Even though this injury did not require surgery I would recommend getting a Physical Therapy evaluation to provide guidance throughout recovery. With ankle injuries it can be common to see decreased strength and range of motion that can affect walking and other daily activities.
**This reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.