How to Treat an Ankle Sprain

Orthopaedic injuries tend to come in two basic types: acute and overuse. Acute injuries are those that involve sudden trauma, such as the impact of a fall. These include sprains, strains, bruises and fractures. Overuse injuries result from using a part of the body too much, causing a series of repeated small injuries.

Ankle sprains occur when there is an overstretching or injury of the ligaments that support the ankle. The ligaments on the outside of the ankle are most commonly injured when the foot is turned inward on an awkward step. Therefore, ankle sprains are considered acute injuries.

Symptoms of ankle sprain include a tender and swollen ankle on the outside below and in front of the ankle bone. Depending on how severe the injury is, you’ll have trouble moving your ankle, putting weight on your ankle, or walking on your ankle.

Treatment of ankle sprains features that old standby, R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression and elevation, with ice (not directly applied to the skin) recommended for 20-30 minutes each hour. In addition, your doctor may suggest rehabilitation to begin a few days after the injury, when the swelling has gone down. The goals of this rehabilitation are to restore motion and flexibility, and to restore strength and balance.