WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
An ankle sprain happens when 1 or more ligaments in your ankle joint stretch or tear. Ligaments are tough tissues that connect bones. Ligaments support your joints and keep your bones in place.
- Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Rest: Rest your joint so that it can heal. Return to normal activities as directed.
- Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your injured ligament for 15 to 20 minutes every hour. Use the ice for as long as directed.
- Compress: Ask if you should wrap an elastic bandage around your injured ligament. An elastic bandage provides support and helps decrease swelling and movement so your joint can heal. Wear as long as directed.
- Elevate: Keep your injured ankle raised above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease or limit swelling. Elevate your ankle by resting it on pillows.
Prevent another ankle sprain:
- Let your ankle heal: Find out how long your ligament needs to heal. Do not do any physical activity until your primary healthcare provider says it is okay. If you start activity too soon, you may develop a more serious injury.
- Take it slow: Slowly increase how often and how long you exercise or train. Sudden increases in how often you train may cause you to overstretch or tear your ligament.
- Always warm up: Always warm up and stretch before you exercise or play sports.
- Use the right equipment: Always wear shoes that fit well and are made for the activity that you are doing. You may also use ankle supports, elbow and knee pads, or braces.
You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- Your pain does not go away, even after treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have severe pain in your ankle.
- Your foot or toes are cold or numb.
- Your ankle becomes more weak or unstable (wobbly).
- You are unable to put any weight on your ankle or foot.
- Your swelling has increased or returned.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.