Step-by-Step Guide to Treating a Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle is a common injury resulting in intense pain, discomfort and reduced mobility. From falling down stairs to tripping on the sidewalk, people experience sprained ankles in a variety of ways, but most sprained ankles can be treated effectively by taking the right precautions. While most sprained ankles don’t require trips to the emergency room or invasive surgery, being proactive can help promote quicker healing and reduce the likelihood for more substantial therapy later. The following offers a step-by-step method to help treat a sprained ankle.


1. Visit a physician.

Those who sprain their ankles should see a qualified bone doctor as soon as possible. While a trip to the emergency room can be avoided, people should see their regular physicians to make sure there aren’t any additional injuries associated with the sprained ankle. Doctors will most likely take an X-ray of the injured area to determine whether the ankle is simply sprained or actually broken. If it’s sprained, then at-home remedies should be sufficient in treating the ankle.


2. Protect the injured area.

A sprained ankle needs to be protected in order to heal. Buying compression wraps and padded braces can help relieve the stress of the ankle and allow it to heal naturally. Compression bandages and braces help restrict movement, an important step in the healing process. Before buying a compression wrap, those with sprained ankles should consult with a pharmacist or doctor to ensure they buy the right kind. Following the directions on the package will ensure effective protection against movement.


3. Avoid strenuous activities.

Rest is the most effective form of treatment for a sprained ankle. While some people may be able to walk with a sprained ankle, it should be avoided due to the potential for further damage and delayed healing. Those suffering from a sprained ankle may consider using crutches to move around, but most movement should be limited during recovery. Allowing the ankle to heal by resting will generally result in a quicker recovery time.


4. Apply ice and elevate.

Ice may help relieve pain and reduce swelling. For the first two to three days, those with sprained ankles should apply an ice pack or bag of ice to the ankle for 10 to 20 minutes at a time every couple of hours. Those using bags of ice in lieu of an ice pack should take care not to apply the ice directly to the skin and use a protective towel instead. Once the ankle is iced, it should be elevated as much as possible to promote healing.


5. Take OTC medication.

After the initial pain of the injury, most people don’t experience continued pain with a sprained ankle, but some continue to feel discomfort as the ankle repairs itself naturally. To treat pain and ongoing discomfort along with the swelling of the injury, over-the-counter medications can be taken. These may include acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Those recovering from sprained ankles should make sure to follow the correct dosage instructions to avoid potential side effects from OTC medication.