What do you do for a sprained ankle?


Quick Answer

In a grade 1 sprain in which the ligaments supporting the ankle have been stretched, remember the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Grade 2 sprains in which the ligaments are partially torn require stabilizing the joint with a splint. Grade 3 sprains that completely tear or rupture ligaments often require surgery. See a doctor for proper diagnosis.

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Full Answer

Rest the ankle by using crutches, and avoid putting any weight on the limb until it no longer hurts to do so. Within the first 48 hours of injury, apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. According to the Prairie Spine and Pain Institute, there are four stages of cold therapy: cold, burning, aching and numbness. For maximum effect, numbness is required. When this stage is reached, remove the ice pack.

Compress the ankle with wrapping for the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce swelling. If the compression wrap increases pain or is accompanied by tingling or numbness, it is too tight. When lying down, elevate the leg for a few hours a day to decrease the amount of swelling. After one to two weeks, restore the range of motion by going to physical therapy or by practicing flexibility and strengthening exercises at home.

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