Sprained ankle


Your doctor will evaluate your ankle, foot, and lower leg during a physical examination. The doctor will move your foot to assess its range of motion, feel the area around the injury for soreness, and determine which postures are painful or uncomfortable.
If the injury is serious, your doctor might advise one or more of the imaging tests listed below to rule out a broken bone or to more precisely assess the degree of ligament damage:

  • X-ray. A little amount of radiation goes into your body during an X-ray to create images of the ankle bones. This examination is useful for excluding bone fractures.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). MRIs create fine cross-sectional or 3-D pictures of the soft internal ankle structures, including ligaments, using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan. CT scans can provide more information about the joint’s skeletal structure. In a CT scan, X-rays are collected from numerous angles and combined to create cross-sectional or 3-D images.
  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound creates live images using sound waves. When the foot is in various postures, your doctor may use these images to assess the health of a ligament or tendon.


The severity of your injury will determine how you are treated for a sprained ankle. Reduced discomfort and swelling, ligament repair, and ankle function restoration are the main objectives of treatment. If your injuries are severe, you can be sent to an orthopedic surgeon or a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation who specializes in musculoskeletal injuries.


For the first two or three days, self-care for an ankle sprain should follow the R.I.C.E. protocol:

  • Rest. Avoid doing things that hurt, itch, or make you uncomfortable.
  • Ice. While you are awake, apply an ice pack or take an ice bath for 15 to 20 minutes right away, then repeat every two to three hours. Before using ice, see your doctor if you have diabetes, vascular disease, or impaired sensation.
  • Compression. Compress the ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling subsides to help halt it. Don’t wrap too tightly to restrict blood flow. At the end that is furthest from your heart, start wrapping.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling, elevate your ankle above the level of your heart, especially at night. Gravity lessens swelling by eliminating additional fluid.


The pain of a sprained ankle can usually be managed with over-the-counter painkillers such ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen.


You might need to use crutches until the pain goes away because walking with a sprained ankle can be painful. Your doctor might advise using an elastic bandage, sports tape, or ankle support brace to stabilize the ankle, depending on the degree of the sprain. A cast or walking boot may be required in the event of a serious sprain to keep the ankle immobile while it heals.


Your doctor will instruct you to start a series of exercises to regain your ankle’s range of motion, strength, flexibility, and stability once the swelling and pain have subsided enough for you to resume mobility. The proper technique and progression of exercises will be described by your doctor or a physical therapist.
In order to retrain the ankle muscles to cooperate and support the joint and to aid in the prevention of recurring sprains, balance and stability training is particularly crucial. Different levels of balancing challenges, such as standing on one leg, may be a part of these workouts.

Ask your doctor when you could resume your activity if you injured your ankle while exercising or playing a sport. To find out how well your ankle works for the sports you play, your doctor or physical therapist may ask you to participate in specific activity and movement tests.


Surgery is occasionally necessary when an injury doesn’t heal or the ankle is still unstable despite extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises. Surgery could be done to fix a ligament that isn’t healing or rebuild a ligament using tissue from an adjacent ligament or tendon.