Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of your injury. Many people simply treat their injury at home.
In most cases, over-the-counter pain relievers — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) — are enough to handle the pain caused by a sprained ankle.
A few days after your injury, after the swelling has gone down, you may want to see a physical therapist and start performing exercises to restore your ankle's range of motion, strength, flexibility and balance.
Balance and stability training is especially important to retrain the ankle muscles to work together to support the joint. These exercises may involve various degrees of balance challenge, such as standing on one leg.
If you sprained your ankle while exercising or participating in a sport, talk to your doctor about when you can begin your activity again. You may need to wear an ankle brace or wrap your ankle to protect it from re-injury.
Surgical and other procedures
If your ankle joint is unstable, your doctor may refer you to a joint specialist for evaluation. You may need a cast or walking boot to immobilize your joint so that it can heal properly. In rare cases of severe ligament tears, or if you are an elite athlete, you may need surgery to repair the damage.
Aug. 20, 2011
- Maughan KL. Ankle sprain. http://uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- Sprained ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00150. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- Krabak BJ, et al. Ankle sprain. In: Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- Mercier LR. Ankle sprain. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- Abu-Laban RB, et al. Ankle and foot. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- Bone X-ray (radiography). Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bonerad. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- General nuclear medicine. Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=gennuclear. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- CT: Body. Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodyct. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- MRI of the musculoskeletal system. Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=muscmr. Accessed May 27, 2011.