How to tend to a sprained ankle

How to tend to a sprained ankle

Pain, swelling, tenderness & bruises are the signs of a sprained or fractured ankle. A sprained ankle is when ligaments are torn. It can happen to anyone while doing daily life activities but primarily athletes.

Types of a sprained ankle

The degree of sprained ankle depends on how much the ligament is damaged.

Grade 1 (mild): the ligaments are stretched or torn slightly. The ankle will have a minor tenderness and swelling on the touch.

Grade 2 (moderate): the ligament is torn but not wholly. The swelling will be all over the injury, and it hurts to move.

Grade 3 (severe): the ligament is completely torn, the ankle swells up significantly, and it is hard to move or walk.


A doctor can diagnose it by physical examination. The doctor will touch the skin around the injury for tenderness and swelling and check the foot’s movement to check the range of motion to understand the point of discomfort and pain. If there is a severe injury, the doctor might recommend the following methods to confirm the case:

X-ray: This test is relatively practical for ruling out broken bones as the radiations pass through the body and produce images.

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging): it used a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed 3-D imaging of the soft internal structure of the ankle, including ligaments. This technique is most effective in ruling out the sprained ankle condition.

CT scan: It takes X-rays from different angles and combines them to make cross-sectional images.

Ultrasound: it uses sound waves to produce the images. These images help the doctor judge the ligament or tendon condition.

How to treat a sprained ankle

Treatment depends on how severe your injury is. For severe cases, one might be referred to a musculoskeletal injuries specialist, orthopaedic surgeon, or physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The goal is to complete ligament healing, recover swelling and reduce pain.

Taking care of yourself is the most important factor:

Rest: Try to rest as much as possible and avoid physical activities as it would put pressure on the ankle and take a longer time to heal.

Ice pack: use an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes after every two to three hours to numb the pain.

Compression: apply compression with the help of an elastic bandage to help stop swelling. But without hindering the blood circulation, so don’t wrap it too tightly.

Elevation: to overcome swelling of a sprained ankle, elevate your ankle above heart level. Gravity helps reduce swelling by draining excessive fluids into the system.


For instant relief of pain and pain management by the injuries, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen, etc. are enough to manage the pain.


Doing a daily routine could be very difficult to do with a sprained ankle, so one might need crutches to help move and walk until the pain goes away. It also depends on the severity of the sprain doctors might recommend an elastic bandage, ankle support brace, sports tape, or plaster to support the ankle. In some severe cases, the walking boot is also required to immobilize the ankle while it’s healing.


Once the swelling goes down, the doctor will recommend physiotherapy to restore the ankle’s motion, range, flexibility, and strength. Your physical therapist will explain the number of exercises to do over time.

Next time if you are thinking of getting engaged in any sports, consult your doctor first.


In some sporadic cases, when the ankle doesn’t get healed and remain unstable even after very long rehabilitative facilities, the surgery is performed

●     Repair the ligament that won’t heal

●     Reconstruct a ligament with tissue from a nearby ligament or tendon  

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