How Long Should I Wear a Walking Boot for a Sprained Ankle?

How Long Should I Wear a Walking Boot for a Sprained Ankle?

We have all had the situation where you have been looking forward to a walk, only to slip or trip and sprain your ankle. It is a common injury, but it can severely ruin your ability to enjoy yourself over the next few days or weeks. In this situation, you may be asking how long to wear a walking boot for a sprained ankle?

In short, you should wear a walking boot on a sprained ankle for as long as your doctor recommends. This may be longer or shorter depending on the severity of the strain, sprain, or fracture. Regardless, you should listen to a medical professional to ensure your personal safety.

How Long to Wear a Walking Boot for a Sprained Ankle?

Your doctor will tend to give advice on more specific expectations about how long to wear a walking boot or other ankle support. Regardless, there are a few expectations for how long you may need support depending on how bad the injury is. Once you find out the specific organ you have injured, your doctor will be able to inform you of more details.

Should your tendons be the injured area, you can expect to be wearing a walking boot for between four and eight weeks. Although this will depend on the severity of the injury, it may be longer.

If you find yourself with a fracture, it may be between six and eight weeks you have to wear the boot. Expect to need plenty of time resting and do not put weight on the area.

Whereas if you damage the ligaments in your leg, you will usually be out of work for between six and twelve weeks. Ligament damage can even continue for more time depending on the severity of the injury.

Benefits of a Walking Boot

The reason you will need to wear a walking boot for this length of time is simply to support your ankle. Keeping the foot in the same position and not moving it allows the body to knit back together. The bones, ligaments, and tendons can heal without them stretching or compressing because of the body’s movement.

Also, the walking boot’s structure is such that it will keep the ankle at the appropriate angle to let the foot heal. This will occur without any scarring causing further complications.

For this reason, you cannot don and doff the walking boot on a regular basis. You should seek to keep it on at all times to allow your body to heal. If you do not, you may find yourself with problems down the line, such as further pain or tightness in the muscles.

Twelve weeks of strict rules about what you can do with your leg may seem like a long time, but it is the best thing you can do for your body while you recover.

Avoiding Needing a Walking Boot

As someone may have already told you, most minor injuries will need you to use the RICE technique. This is:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compress
  • Elevate

Doing this ensures you do not exacerbate any issue with the area. If you have just injured the area, use the leg as little as possible. Also, keep the leg cooled with ice or similar cold material to reduce swelling.

After this, the leg requires compression using a specialized elastic bandage. Also, raising the affected area to higher than your heart means swelling will reduce further. This allows it to heal faster.

Should the sprain or injury be relatively minor, rest and recuperation by following the RICE method may be all you need. This can promote healing and reduce the time you need to wear a walking boot. You should definitely check with a medical professional where possible to ensure you make the choice that is correct for you.

What is a Walking Boot?

You may have heard a walking boot referred to by a different name, including:

  • Medical boots
  • Fracture boots
  • Medical casts
  • Cast boots
  • Walking casts
  • Aircast boots

All of these, while having some small differences, can be used to prevent the ankle from moving and allow it to heal. The walking boot straps the leg into the L-shaped boot, reducing motion.

A doctor may ask you to wear a plaster bandage or fiberglass cast and you should follow their advice. If not, a walking boot provides effective, strong, and preventative support to the ankle. It also does this while still allowing easy access by a doctor when necessary.

If you are wearing a walking boot, you may find your walking gait has adjusted due to the thick sole of the device. In that situation, you may wish to investigate the use of shoe balancing devices to assist your stride.

If you need to move around while wearing a walking boot, it may be a good idea to do so with crutches. This will remove a lot of the stress on your feet and prevent you from resting your weight on the ankle.

Wearing the Boot for Longer

If your doctor recommends it, there is every chance you may have to wear the walking boot for a longer period of time.  You may also have to do this if the injury does not heal as fast as you expect,  

Wearing the boot for longer may also be a result of having needed to get surgery due to the injury. This is likely if a fracture has occurred, but may also be a result of significant muscle damage or other problems.

Similarly, there may be non-injury-related reasons a person must wear the boot for longer. Many of these are because the person has not healed quite as fast as they would have liked to. 

The foremost of those reasons is that the injured party does not rest the limb. This causes the original problem to not have a chance to heal before stress is put on the injured area. This will mean the hurt party must wear the boot for more time until the limb improves.

There is also the chance your doctor simply wants to be careful. In that case, they may make a recommendation you keep wearing the boot a little longer than normal. This is to ensure your safety. 

It is generally a good idea to follow your doctor's advice in this case. They have the training and know-how to make a call of whether you should be wearing the boot or not.

Precautions

The walking boot is for your benefit. Your personal experience, however, may mean wearing a boot around the house is not the most comfortable situation.

The realities of life may also mean you need to move around a little bit more. This may lengthen the time you spend in the walking boot through stress.

Walking in the boot will help circulation, but physical barriers may cause an exacerbated condition. This is especially true if you do not take steps to remedy them.

There are a few things you can do to prevent causing injury to yourself. These will help you by also not increasing the time you might need to wear a walking boot.

First of all, if you are using crutches, make sure they are at the correct height. You do not want to accidentally scuff your injured foot on the ground. This is especially true if you remove the walking boot for any length of time. The added length of the boot may change how you walk.

Also, make sure you wear appropriate shoes when wearing crutches. Shoes with good grip are essential to ensuring a solid comfort level. You do not want to slip when using them and then use your injured foot to balance yourself.

Around the home, ensure your medication, food, and water are all in easy-to-reach places. Only after you have done that should you start relaxing, then you can ensure you do not need to move around as much. Also, get friends to clear space in your home, so you can easily move around.

Finally, if you work in a building with multiple floors, ask what provisions they can make to help you. A receptionist may be able to assist you in entering or leaving so you do not need to put pressure on your ankle.

Following the above advice as well as other tips for living with a cast or walking boot. If you do this you should be able to ensure you will end up wearing the boot for the least time necessary. This should save you on stress and allow you to get back to life as it was before the injury.

Prevention

If you are an athlete, your coach or physical trainer may be able to give you specific advice on how to improve your exercise, even with a walking boot. This is so you continue to train the rest of your muscles without making your ankle worse.

One of the most important things to remember, however, is that you should do everything you can to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place. If you are about to prepare for a day of extreme stress on a limb, make sure you prepare that area of the body. Doing appropriate stretches will make sure many problems do not occur. This is because your muscles will have already prepared themselves for sudden changes and warmed up.

In addition, some products are available which can provide support when problems may occur. Ankle supports, for example, can stop you from causing yourself harm due to slips and trips.

Other Factors

The body is a complicated system of many interlocking concepts. Any of them could cause you to need to wear a walking boot for more or less time. Some of these are solvable, whereas others are chronic issues.

One of the most common reasons for a slowly-healing wound would be the onset of diabetes. If you are an individual affected by this disease, damage to your nerves can mean your blood does not circulate as well as it used to. This can then mean that your ankle does not repair itself as fast as it should. Eventually, this may lead to further issues with the ankle.

If you have a diagnosis of obesity you may find you have other difficulties with the healing process. Extra pressure on the affected area may cause you to need to wear a walking boot for longer than the listed times above.  In addition, you will be at greater risk of infection due to increased body mass

You should be aware that various medications and non-prescription drugs may have an effect on your body's ability to heal. Anticoagulants prevent blood clotting, while aspirin and ibuprofen will prevent inflammation. These, are a part of the natural healing process. Make sure to ask your doctor before taking any medication during the period of you using a walking boot.

Further Advice

In all, you should be aware that you will often end up wearing a walking boot for between six and twelve weeks. This depends on the nature of the injury. As explained above, you should be doing everything in your power to ensure that your body can perform its natural processes. Do not make the injury worse, and give your body time to heal.

If you have a sprain yourself, you may be in need of ankle support. We can provide a number of different solutions to ensure you do not lose your edge. Check out our range of braces and supports to ensure you keep your body in top shape.


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