I wanted to share a few things that I did that I believe allowed me to heal in record time - 100% naturally, of course!
We've all heard to ice a sprained ankle, well I'm here to tell you I actually used a lot more hot water than ice! The famous RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for sports injuries was coined by Dr. Gabe Merkin in a book he wrote in 1978 and has been the conventional treatment for sports injuries of all kinds ever since. However, in Chinese Medicine it is believed that athletic and traumatic type injuries cause something called blood stagnation at the site of the injury, and this stagnation has to be relieved in order to heal. Ice only contributes to further stagnation because it slows down and coagulates the blood. Also, if we look at it from a western perspective, inflammation is actually a good thing because it is what is causing healing to occur. We don't want to suppress inflammation too much, or we risk stunting the healing process. Dr. Merkin actually DOES NOT RECOMMEND ICE anymore. He explains here in this article from his website.
Here is my natural medicine sprained ankle protocol:
1.) I took oral Arnica Montana, 30c, immediately after the injury. I had some in my purse so I actually took it while I was still on the ground. Arnica is a great homeopathic remedy for trauma, bruising, swelling and pain. I continued to take this about once an hour for the first two days of the injury. I actually had very little bruising to my ankle the whole time, and I attribute this to the arnica.
2.) I used three different topical herbal and homeopathic preparations on my ankle. One was Good Life Botanicals Relief Salve which is a blend of full spectrum hemp oil, several essential oils that are good for pain and trauma as well as arnica. I carry this awesome product in my office and I've seen it work for many types of pain (both chronic and acute). I also applied straight arnica gel to the ankle (you can actually get this at Walgreens or CVS these days). The third topical I used was Zheng Gu Shui, which is a Chinese herbal linament that has been around for a very long time. It's traditionally used for martial arts injuries and actually can help to heal bones and tendons. It also has big-time blood stagnation relieving properties. On the recommendation from a colleague, in addition to applying it to my ankle I also added about a tsp of Zheng Gu Shui to hot water soaks (see below).
3.) I used hot and cold hydrotherapy to increase circulation. I alternated soaks of cool water and warm water on my ankle to increase circulation and retain flexibility (always ending in warm water). I also used epsom salts in the water.
4.) I used internal herbal medicine to relieve pain and remove blood stagnation. I used an herbal analgesic formula from Evergreen Herbs that drastically took my pain down (this isn't available online, but can be ordered from my office). I also took a formula called Bruise Mender which is a traditional formula that eases blood stagnation and also includes herbs that help to nourish and heal bones and tendons. It is great for both soft tissues injuries like sprains, as well as fractures. I will continue to take this formula for awhile after the injury.
5.) I got acupuncture and cupping! Acupuncture and cupping helps to relieve blood stagnation and increase circulation so that the inflammatory process can do what it needs to do.
6.) I used nutrition to help encourage tendon repair and collagen production, as well as encourage a healthy inflammatory response. Here's what I did:
- Collagen Peptides Powder, 1-2 Tbl per day in soup, water or any drink. Blends in hot or cold liquid. Collagen is the building block of soft tissues, including ligaments and tendons.
- Vitamin C, 1,000 mg per day. Vitamin C stimulates collagen production and also supports the immune system (the immune system controls the inflammatory response).
- Bromelain, a protein digesting enzymes from pineapple that helps encourage a healthy inflammatory response. Take between meals.
- Zinc, 30 mg, Also important for tissue repair and immune function.
- Protein, I made sure I got about 90 grams of high quality protein per day while healing. An injury automatically increases the body's needs for high quality protein because protein is so important for tissue rebuilding. The collagen (see above) also helped me meet my protein goals.
7.) I used the Celluma Pro on the pain setting to help encourage tissue repair. The Celluma is an LED Light Therapy device that is FDA Approved for pain, anti-aging and acne.
8.) I rested for a good six days before going back to a limited schedule of patients. I kept my foot elevated and used crutches to stay off of it. I used a compression wrap and air-cast on it when I was moving around the house on my crutches, but would unwrap it at night while sleeping.
9.) I got a massage. I needed this not only for my ankle, but also for my hips, back and neck and shoulders after sitting for so long and also being on crutches.
10.) I kept the joint mobilized when I couldn't walk on it by drawing the ABCs with my big toe. This keeps the joint more flexible. When I could do more, I started strengthening and balance exercises for the ankle, foot and leg.
I've been pleased with how fast my sprain has healed, but you may still see me moving a little slower and wearing a brace for the next few weeks!