How Should Ankle Sprains Be Treated?

You missed a step and twisted your ankle. Maybe you stepped in a hole and injured your ankle. It’s easy for you or your child to sprain an ankle playing sports. How should ankle sprains be treated?

Is It a Sprain?

Close-up of male doctor bandaging foot of female patient at doctor's office.

Symptoms of a sprained ankle are pretty clear. There will be:

  • Swelling, bruising, and tenderness
  • Pain while resting or trying to walk or put weight on it
  • Redness and warmth
  • Instability

If the pain is severe, you might want to visit an orthopedic specialist like our orthopedic surgeons in Fairfax, VA sooner rather than later. Call us today at (703) 892-6500.

What to Do First for a Sprained Ankle

If you believe you have sprained your ankle, but the pain is not severe, start with RICE.

Rest is needed to prevent stressing or injuring your ankle further.

Ice is really important to reduce swelling, inflammation, and redness. Apply ice to the area as soon as possible after your injury.

Compression using an elastic bandage or wrap should come next to reduce swelling. Begin to wrap furthest from your heart. Avoid wrapping too tightly as it will cut off blood flow.

Elevation is equally important. Keep your ankle raised up as high as you comfortably can. Prop up your ankle so it is higher than your heart.

Next, begin taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Best choices are ibuprofen and naproxen. Check with our physician if these are the best medications for you.

What To Do Next

If the swelling, pain, and other symptoms do not subside in about a week to ten days, it may be time to make an appointment for a clinical evaluation of your ankle.

Our orthopedic surgeon may decide to provide a brace to keep your ankle still. Crutches can help keep weight off of it. Our doctor might want to see you again in about 1 to 2 weeks to observe improvement or lack thereof.

It’s possible your sprain is more severe than you originally thought. You might need an X-ray or an MRI to be sure the injury is not a fracture.

What to Expect During Sprained Ankle Recovery

It can take as long as 10 to 12 weeks or longer before a moderate sprain has healed enough to return to normal activities. Rarely is surgery needed for an ankle sprain. 

Use caution. If you don’t allow the ligaments in your ankle to completely heal before engaging in sports or other activities, this can become a chronic problem. You will be more susceptible to future sprains.

Contact Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic at (703) 892-6500 to schedule an appointment if the pain and swelling of an injured ankle does not respond to at-home treatments.