Treating And Preventing An Ankle Sprain

  • By Jordan D. Metzl, M.D.
  • Published Feb 25, 2014

Fix It

Apply first aid. For any sprain, ice and elevation for the swelling will help (don’t ice an ankle for more than 15 minutes at a time). For anything above a grade 1 sprain, crutches are a good idea. As the sprain heals, compression with, for example, an elastic bandage can help with internal bleeding and swelling.

Employ dynamic rest. Stay fit with upper-body work. Depending on the severity of your sprain, try swimming or running in a pool.

Try an NSAID. An anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen can help with pain and inflammation.

Move it. For simple sprains, as the pain becomes tolerable, perform basic range-of-motion exercises. During the first week, do only the following: Pull the foot upward, then point it away. Any side-to-side or rotating movement could aggravate the injured ligaments. After a week, add in rotation. With your ankle elevated, do ankle circles in one direction, then the other. Go slow at first if the injury is still painful, but up the speed and reps as the injury heals. This will help you get back the full range of motion.

When To Call A Doctor

If pain and swelling are severe, see a doctor to gauge how bad the damage is. Many things can go along with an ankle sprain—there are a lot of moving parts in the foot, including the tendons, cartilage and bones.

RELATED: Treating And Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

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