Ankle Sprain: Home Care Options

Updated 10/14/2018

In this video we discuss ankle sprains and the critical importance of early and proper care and treatment.

An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle is taken past its normal range of motion, resulting in damaged ligaments. Proper treatment of a sprained ankle can prevent re-injury or chronic problems.


Ankle Sprains are classified by a graded scale of severity from a slight stretch of the ligament with no tears to a complete tear of the ligament.


Severe ankle sprains often include fractures to surrounding bones and require more treatment and rehabilitation to avoid serious chronic issue.

RICE Regimen for an Ankle Sprain


RICE therapy for ankle srains

One of the best initial treatments for a sprained ankle is "RICE" therapy.


  • Rest: Stop any activity that provokes ankle pain. In most cases you will be unable to walk or bear weight and crutches may be needed.

  • Ice: Apply for 20 minutes three times per day the first few days following the injury. This will help to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Compression: A bandage or supporting taping with help support the ligament.

  • Elevation: elevating your sprained ankle above your heart will assist gravity to reduce swelling.



Bracing a Sprained Ankle


Ankle sprains typically take 6 weeks to heal, but depending on the severity of the injury, can take up to 4 months. During this recovery time, an ankle brace or ankle stirrup is recommended to support and protect the ligaments.


Following an ankle sprain, early mobilization using a lace-up type ankle brace is recommended. Functional lace-up braces improve ankle joint function, reduce swelling and instability, resulting in a shorter recovery period.



Stretching and Strengthening Exercises for an Ankle Sprain


Ankle Sprain stretches, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Stretches should be performed, beginning with gentle stretches, once the initial pain and inflammation has lessened. Prolonged periods of rest that accompany the recovery of an injured tendon result in shorten and tighten muscles.


Stretching assists in the rehab process by increasing range of motion and balance. Stretches should be held for 15 seconds and repeated 10 times each.


  • Dorsiflexion: While keeping your knees straight, pull your foot back toward you by moving your ankle and continue until either discomfort is felt.


  • Plantar flexion: (pointing toe and working calf muscles) While keeping your knees straight, push your foot forward away from you. Continue until discomfort is felt, or you can no longer bend your foot forward.


  • Eversion: (turning inside of foot down and outside of foot up). By moving your ankle, turn your foot outward and continue until discomfort is felt.


  • Inversion: Turn your foot inward and continue until discomfort is felt.



How to Prevent a Sprained Ankle


What can be done to reduce your risk spraining your ankle?


  • Stretch before and after athletic activities: prepare you body and muscles for activity. Changes in your activity level exposes you body to injury.
  • Balance: improving balance will improve your ability to control your body in all types of positions
  • Strength training: the stronger the muscles are that support the ankle, less likely you are to suffer a sprain
  • Wear well-fitted shoes, appropriate for your activity
  • Avoid sudden turns and changes in direction during athletic activities
  • Be aware of the surface on which you walk, run or jump
  • Taping and bracing to support the ligaments



What to Do if Home Ankle Sprain Remedies Don’t Work


While home care treatment may be adequate for some ankle sprains, there are many cases in which medical attention is needed. If ankle sprains aren’t treated properly, the condition often progresses to a significantly more severe or chronic injury.


The physicians at UFAI are experts in the treatment of ankle sprains and chronic ankle instability. With decades of combined experience and the most advanced technologies at their disposal, our physicians have helped thousands of patients get back on their feet and back to their active life.

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