April 2008 Wellness Ezine

Natural Healing for Ankle Strains

    A sprained ankle can be painful—and frustrating. You’re walking or running several miles a day, and now you have piercing pain just going about your daily routine. “You have to get an idea of how bad it is,” says Eric Flatland, a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and licensed acupuncturist in Boulder. “If it’s acute the best thing to do is to stay off of it.”
    The first thing that anyone should do when they experience a sprain is to ice the ankle and elevate it. The goal is to limit the initial amount of swelling as much as possible. Ankle sprains usually come with some swelling, pain and tenderness. Another key tool in controlling the amount of swelling is a compress.
    In addition to Ibuprofen, consider using natural remedies to reduce the swelling such as bromelain. This mixture of enzymes found in pineapples helps with the process of healing the broken cells and eliminates destroyed tissue in the ankle. “Not only does it help reduce the injury, but it turns on the repairing process and it doesn’t interrupt the enzyme component that Ibuprofen does,” says Flatland. Other key naturopathic anti-inflammatories include full-strength arnica and turmeric.
    Look for arnica ointments; the more arnica they contain, the better, says Flatland. Turmeric extract also works well to reduce initial swelling and encourage more natural healing.
    For more severe sprains, in which the ankle ligaments could be impacted, Flatland says that Ibuprofen greatly improves the healing process. Massage therapy is another great tool to flush the tissue and speed recovery.
    For mild sprains, about two weeks of rest, ice and elevation should do the trick. Those experiencing more extreme strains who don’t feel like they’re making progress may want to check with their primary care provider.
    There is no lack of ointments, drugs and herbal supplements available in the market today. The key is to find a course of action that complements your overall health objectives.
    And, according to Flatland, don’t underestimate the power of the simple initial steps you can take to care for your sprain.
    “No matter what you do, rest, ice, compression and elevation are the keys,” he says.

    Erik Flatland is a naturopathic physician and a licensed acupuncturist who works with a wide variety of conditions. To learn more about Erik, or his practice, go to www.bouldernatural.com.

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