Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of your injury. Many people simply treat their injury at home.

Medications

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.

Therapy

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