Ankle Sprain Treatment: The Do’s and Don’ts

At UFAI, we know an ankle sprain when we see one. Ankle sprains account for about 3 out of every 4 ankle injuries, and on any given day, about 30,000 Americans will sprain their ankle!

What happens when you sprain your ankle, exactly? A sprain is a tear in the ligamentous and/or muscular tissue that you use to keep yourself stable while on your feet.

The most common sprains strike the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, what your doctor calls the talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL).

Although most ankle sprains are easily treated, somewhere between 20-40% of them become chronic problems. This is because many sprains are compounded by additional injuries to the structures surrounding the ankle. Tears in the tendon, chip fractures in the bone or ankle joint, and damage to the cartilage can complicate a common sprain.

You won’t be able to diagnose your ankle injury from home, so it’s crucially important that you visit a foot and ankle specialist for evaluation as soon as you can. If left untreated, an ankle sprain may never heal properly, leaving you with chronic ankle instability. The condition may degenerate, leading to arthritis and tendonitis. Patients who skimped on treatment often report that they feel like their ankle will give out at any time, even years after the injury. To avoid further injury, we put together a short list of what to do for an ankle sprain.

What to do for a sprianed ankle, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of treating ankle sprains:

Do visit your foot and ankle specialist immediately. You should have your ankle sprain evaluated by a professional as soon as you can, preferably on the same day as your injury. If your sprain involves injuries beyond just the ligaments of your ankle, an X-ray or MRI will be able to spot them. A prompt and accurate diagnosis will set you up for success in your recovery.

Do rehabilitate the ankle. Physical therapy is important after any sprain to help strengthen the ankle.  Your physical therapist will show you a few exercises that you can practice at home to practice stability, such as standing on one foot or using a wobble board.

Do immobilize the ankle.  Your ankle needs plenty of rest. To help with that, it’s best to immobilize the ankle in a proper position in order for the ligaments to heal tight and stable.  If the ankle is left to relax on its own, the ligaments may heal in a lax position, leading to chronic ankle instability and further injury.

Don’t walk it off. Seriously, don’t do this! Your ankle needs rest in order to heal.

Don’t ignore it. Untreated sprains cause the ankle to become unstable, which can lead to chronic pain, swelling, instability, and ultimately arthritis.

Don’t delay treatment. Resting the ankle on its own without immobilization might allow the ankle ligaments to stretch and become lax, resulting in an unstable ankle.  Any related injuries, such as tendon tears and cartilage injuries, should be promptly diagnosed as well. See your foot and ankle specialist immediately so that you can begin the healing process.

If you have any questions or would like more information on ankle sprain treatment, we encourage you to call us at (877) 989-9110 or visit us at

Dr. Sydney K. Yau

Dr. Sydney K. Yau

Dr. Yau received his initial medical training at Temple University in Philadelphia where he specialized in diabetic limb salvage, sports medicine, foot and ankle reconstruction and trauma.

He then went on to complete his surgical reconstruction fellowship with the University Foot and Ankle Institute, one of only a few fellowships recognized by the American College Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Now playing an integral role at the University Foot and Ankle Institute, Dr. Yau’s treats various sports injuries, including sprains, arthritis and fractures. He also is passionate about helping diabetic patients avoid amputation through correction of deformities and wound healing.

Dr. Yau is available for consultation at our Simi Valley location.
Dr. Sydney K. Yau

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