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Ankle Sprain

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by Scholten A


Most sprains heal well. Treatment for a sprained ankle includes:
  • Rest—Avoid putting any pressure on your ankle by not walking on it. Using crutches will let you bear partial weight. This is allowed early on, except when all three ligaments are torn.
  • Ice—Apply ice or a cold pack to the ankle for 15-20 minutes, 4 times a day for at least 2-3 days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.
  • Compression—Wrap your ankle in an elastic compression bandage. Wrap from the toes going up toward the knee. This will limit swelling of your ankle and foot.
  • Elevation—Keep your ankle raised above the level of your heart as much as you can for 48 hours. This will help drain fluid and reduce swelling.
  • Oral pain medicine such as, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, aspirin or topical pain medicines, such as creams and patches that are applied to the skin
  • Rehabilitation exercises—Begin exercises to restore flexibility, balance, range of motion, and strength of the muscles around your ankle as recommended by your doctor. You may benefit from working with a physical therapist that can teach you the exercises and make sure that you are performing them correctly.
  • Brace—You may need to wear a brace or walking boot to prevent your ankle from moving. In many cases, a brace, which stabilizes and compresses the ankle, will allow for early weight bearing and an earlier return to activity. You will be rehabilitating the ankle as it heals. If you play sports, you may need to wear an ankle brace or tape your ankle when you return to play.
  • Leg cast—If you have a severe sprain, your doctor may recommend a short leg cast for 2-3 weeks, but this is very rare. In many cases, there are special braces that can be used instead of a cast.
  • Surgery—Surgery is rarely needed to repair an ankle sprain. However, it may be necessary to repair a third degree sprain in which all three ligaments are torn.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine



Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation



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