Ankle Sprain

You have a sprained ankle. When you twist or sprain your ankle, the ligaments that hold the joint together are injured. This usually causes a lot of swelling and pain. Although these injuries can be quite severe, proper treatment will reduce your pain, shorten the period of disability, and help prevent re-injury. To treat a sprained ankle you should:

  • Elevate your ankle for the next 2 to 4 days.

  • During this period apply ice packs to the injury for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.

  • Keep the ankle wrapped in a compression bandage or splint as long as it is painful or swollen.

  • Do not walk on your ankle if it still hurts. This can slow the healing. Gentle range of motion exercises, however, can help decrease disability.

  • Use crutches if necessary until weight bearing is painless.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be needed to relieve discomfort.

A plaster or fiberglass splint may be applied initially. As your sprain improves, air, foam or gel-lined braces can be used to protect the ankle from further injury until the joint is completely healed. Ankle rehabilitation exercises may also be used to speed your recovery and make the joint more stable. Most moderate ankle sprains will heal completely in 6 weeks. However, if the sprain is severe, a cast or even surgery may be needed. Restrict your activities and see your doctor for follow-up as advised. If you have persistent pain, further evaluation and x-rays may be needed.