Will ice help the swelling in my ankle?

person removed shoe to assess swollen ankle

I broke a bone in my ankle, but did not need surgery. What is the ideal timeframe for me to continue icing my injury to help with swelling?

Disclaimer: Please note, 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.

Things to Know

  • Ankle fractures typically take at least 8 weeks to heal.
  • Ice can be helpful for the first week during the inflammation phase for pain and swelling.
  • Beyond the first week, ice can continue to help with pain, but does not significantly impact swelling.
  • Movement and elevation are more effective for swelling after the first week.

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 but am happy to offer some general information.

Fractures typically take at least eight 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 on swelling.

Generally, 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 performing ankle alphabets – outlining each letter of the alphabet in the air with their foot while it is elevated. This helps to activate muscles around the ankle, decrease swelling, and improve range of motion.

young woman rubs her Achilles tendon

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. Check out our blog post linked below for more guidance on building ankle strength, flexibility and balance.

graphic shows x-ray vision of an ankle in motion

5 Effective Exercises for Your Ankles

Ankle flexibility, strength, and balance are essential for proper movement, injury prevention, and overall body balance and coordination. Incorporating these five exercises into your workout routine can help reduce the risk of injury and improve athletic performance.

Read More »

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