—to see if a ligament has torn completely (rarely needed)
Ankle sprains are graded according to the damage to the ligaments. The more ligaments involved, the more severe the injury.
Some minor tearing of ligament tissue, but the ankle remains stable
Partial tearing of ligament tissue
Mild instability of the joint
Usually involves damage to two ankle ligaments
Complete tearing of two or three of the ligaments
Significant instability of the joint
Treatment for a sprained ankle includes:
Rest—Avoid putting any pressure on your ankle by not walking on it. Using crutches will allow for partial weight-bearing. This is allowed, early on, except in three ligament tears.
Ice—Apply ice or a cold pack to the ankle for 15-20 minutes, 4 times a day for at least 2-3 days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.
Compression—Wrap your ankle in an elastic compression bandage (eg, Ace bandage). Wrap from the toes going up toward the knee. This will limit swelling of your ankle and foot.
Elevation—Keep your ankle raised above the level of your heart as much as you can for 48 hours. This will help drain fluid and reduce swelling.
Medication—Take one of the following drugs to help reduce inflammation and pain:
Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
Rehabilitation exercises—Begin exercises to restore flexibility, range of motion, and strength of the muscles around your ankle as recommended by your health care professional.
Brace—You may need to wear a brace to immobilize your ankle. In many instances, a brace, which stabilizes and compresses the ankle, will allow for early weight bearing and an earlier return to activity. You will be rehabilitating the ankle as it heals. If you play sports, you may need to wear an ankle brace or tape your ankle when you return to play.
Leg cast—A cast is very rarely needed for an ankle sprain. If you have a severe sprain, your doctor may recommend a short leg cast for 2-3 weeks, but this is very rare. In many cases, there are special braces that can be used instead of a cast.
Surgery—Surgery is rarely needed to repair an ankle sprain, but it may be necessary to repair a third degree sprain in which all three ligaments are torn.
If you are diagnosed with an ankle sprain, follow your doctor's
Many ankle sprains cannot be prevented. However, you can reduce your risk of spraining an ankle:
Take a break from sports or exercise when you feel tired.
Do exercises that strengthen leg and foot muscles.
Learn the proper technique for exercise and sporting activities. This will decrease stress on all your muscles, ligaments and tendons, including those around your ankle.
If you have injured your ankle before, you are much more likely to injure it again. You may reduce your risk of repeated sprains by wearing an Air-Cast or other ankle brace.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a