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How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

Updated on January 18, 2008
Sprained Ankle
Sprained Ankle

So, you have twisted your ankle doing that new Samba move on the dance floor again! How many times do you have to tell your dance partner to stop stepping on your feet! You are now experiencing extreme pain, increased swelling and your poor ankle is really starting to turn an amazing shade of red, white and blue, like the colors on the American flag!

You are most likely experiencing a dreaded sprained ankle and probably won't be doing much dancing for the next few weeks! So how can you speed up your recovery time and get back on that dance floor? Join me now in examining the mechanism of a sprained ankle, signs and symptoms of a sprain and a simple method of treatment for a quick recovery.

A Closer Look at Sprains
A Closer Look at Sprains

Mechanism of a Sprain

A sprain occurs when there is an injury to the ligaments surrounding a joint. This is usually caused by a twisting or wrenching motion. The basic function of a ligament is to maintain stability and permit mobility or movement. When a ligament gets torn, it loses its otherwise stabilizing ability. Blood vessels under the skin become ruptured and significant swelling occurs. The degree of pain and disability are usually at their highest level during the first few hours after an injury occurs because of this associated bleeding and swelling.

To make sure that there is not an underlying bone injury, such as a fracture or avulsion fracture, it is always best to have an xray.

Symptoms of sprain include swelling, discoloration and pain
Symptoms of sprain include swelling, discoloration and pain

Signs and Symptoms of a Sprain

The severity of signs and symptoms will be relative to the degree of the injury, but usually, you will find the following associated with a sprain:

  • Increased edema (swelling)
  • Pain
  • Ecchymosis (bruising and discoloration)
  • Inability or difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg

How To Wrap a Sprained Ankle with a Compression Bandage

Treatment for Sprained Ankle

The gold standard treatment for sprains recommended by orthopedic doctors is R.I.C.E. or rest, ice, compression and elevation. Follow these steps for a speedy recovery.

  • Rest-Use rest to prevent additional injury and promote the healing process. This allows a sprain to heal faster.
  • Ice-To reduce swelling, apply an ice pack intermittently for 20-30 minutes during the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurs. This will produce vasoconstriction which will decrease swelling, bleeding and pain. Make sure to take precautions to avoid skin and tissue damage from excessive cold by placing a barrier between the ice pack and the skin.
  • Compression-An elastic compression bandage, such as an ACE bandage, helps to control bleeding, reduces swelling and provides extra support for the injured tissues. If the injury is severe, however, a cast or surgical repair may be necessary. Be sure to check with your doctor if you suspect a severe sprain. In addition, always check that the bandage is not wrapped to tight. Symptoms of this would include numbness of the foot or leg, pallor (paleness) and coldness. If this occurs, unwrap immediately, let circulation return and rewrap correctly. Be sure to watch the above video to learn how to apply a compression bandage properly.
  • Elevation-Helps reduce the swelling. Elevate on pillows or blankets to a level above the heart to increase blood flow back to the heart thereby reducing swelling.
  • Optional-Take an antiinflammatory, such as Motrin or Tylenol for pain and inflammation. Do not exceed recommended doseage.

Check with Your Doctor

Remember it is always wise to check with your doctor before taking any over the counter medications or if you think you may have an extremely severe sprain or fracture.


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    • profile image

      John T. 

      7 years ago

      Also, try the H.E.M. Ankle Rehab System ( to get your ankle back to 100% faster than R.I.C.E. alone. It works fast. It worked wonders for me over just rest and ice.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A sprained ankle is so common and the best way to protect your self is by strengthening your ankles before they happen. this will help protect you and limit the damage if you do sprained your ankle.

    • Nathaniell7286 profile image


      8 years ago from Around

      I sprained my ankle a few times. I've got a site with up to date information about sprained ankle treatment and rehab

    • PrincessMarci profile image


      9 years ago

      I sprained my ankle when doing gymnastics i was doing a somersault and fell I'm better now but still hurts:( Please visit my hub at

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      How does the compression help to rduce the swelling?

    • ToddieM profile image


      10 years ago from Diamond Bar, CA

      Unfortunately, once those ligaments get snapped, they're never as strong again. People can become to chronic ankle sprains.

    • Jerrico Usher profile image

      Jerrico Usher 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      another great article, very informative.. sprangs hurt like hell.. nice to know how they work, why they hurt and so forth.. your writing is also improving, very compelling information!

    • djtphn1 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Riverside County, California

      That was just a joke....hahahah...thanks for reading my is your family doing?

    • Hazok profile image


      10 years ago from Malaysia

      Interesting. Twisted my ankle before (several times) but not while doing new samba though. But never really know the mechanism of it. Thanks.

    • djtphn1 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Riverside County, California

      Oh, thank you for reading it....yeah, as far as the blog is concerned, it has been a bit neglected as I have been ill and going for treatment, during the day, when I come home, I don't have much time for writing, but I will be better soon and hopefully get back on track....thanks again and don't give up on the blog yet!!!

    • beamsdoorway profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I appreciate all the information on your RN Blog too!

    • djtphn1 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Riverside County, California

      What a cute story, not that she fell on her head, but that she teases you about it. It is amazing how children are so resiliant.....thanks again for your comments.

    • caspar profile image


      11 years ago from UK

      Yes, she was fine - she's 12 now and not as accident-prone as me. It was awful at the time though as she was silent for a few seconds which terrified me, then she started to scream (which was a relief). I hugged her but I couldn't stand up - I shouted for help and no-one came, so I ended up somehow crawling back in the house with her in my arms. I wet a cloth for her head and we sat and watched teletubbies sobbing together for a while. She embarrassed me for many months afterwards by telling everyone she met, "Mummy threw me on my head on the concrete!"

    • djtphn1 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Riverside County, California

      Oh my gosh, was she ok?????I hope so. Thanks for stopping by to read my hub.

    • caspar profile image


      11 years ago from UK

      Ouch! Those photos look nasty. I did something similar falling down a step in the garden. Unfortunately I had a 2-year-old in my arms at the time and I dropped her on her head on the concrete. Not a fun afternoon, but no lasting ill-effects.


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