Health Guide

Ankle sprain

What is it?

An ankle sprain is when the ligaments in your ankle are stretched or torn. The ligaments are tissues that hold bones together. Most of the time your ankle should be well in 4 to 6 weeks with treatment.


You may have had a sudden injury to your ankle, such as tripping. Or you may have bent your ankle the wrong way.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have pain, tenderness, swelling, or bruising of the injured ankle. You may also not be able to move the ankle very well.

Medical Care:

  • Rest and keep off the injured ankle.
  • Put ice on the ankle for 24 to 48 hours. Lift your ankle above the level of your heart. This will lessen the swelling and pain.
  • You may need to use crutches to help you walk. You may take acetaminophen (uh-c-tuh-min-o-fin) or ibuprofen (i-bew-pro-fin) to help the pain. Do not take ibuprofen if you are allergic to aspirin.
  • You may also need to wear a splint or ace wrap on the injured ankle.
  • An x-ray may be needed.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



      Complementary Therapies:

      • Acupuncture may help an ankle sprain.
      • Massage may help an ankle sprain.
      • Physical therapy may help your ankle sprain.

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat ankle sprain.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • Your bruising, swelling, or pain is getting worse.
      • Your toes below the injury feel cold when you touch them.
      • Your toes below the injury are numb or blue.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


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      4. Losito JM & O'Neil J: Rehabilitation of foot and ankle injuries. Clin Podiatr Med Surg 1997; 14(3):533-557.

      5. Pinter E & Szolcsanyi J: Systemic anti-inflammatory effect induced by antidromic stimulation of the dorsal roots in the rat. Neurosci Lett 1996; 212(1):33-36.

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      8. Zhang WY & Li Wan Po A: The effectiveness of topically applied capsaicin: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1994; 46(6):517-522.

      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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