Ankle sprains are common. In fact, they account for up to 25% of sports injuries. You don’t need to be an athlete, however, to sprain an ankle. It can happen just participating in everyday activities or even wearing the wrong shoes. A simple roll of the ankle in a heeled shoe or walking on uneven ground can be enough to sprain an ankle.

Any twist or turn that is outside the normal motion of the ankle joint can stretch the ligaments on the outside of the ankle and cause swelling or inflammation which are the hallmarks of a sprained ankle. There are different grades for an ankle sprain – ranging from stretched ligaments (Grade 1 Sprain), to partial tears in the ligaments (Grade 2 Sprain) to complete tears of the ligaments (Grade 3 Sprain).

Some of the common signs of a sprained ankle include:

  • A “pop” when the injury occurred
  • Swelling in the ankle
  • Redness or bruising
  • Pain
  • Inability to bear weight on the ankle
  • Decreased range of motion


If you know you are dealing with an ankle sprain it is important to control the swelling in the first few days following the injury.   To do so we recommend home care right after your injury.

  • Rest: At first, keep weight off the ankle as much as you can. You may even use crutches to help you walk without putting weight on the ankle.
  • Ice: Put an ice pack on the ankle for 15 minutes. Remove the pack and wait at least 30 minutes before reapplying ice. Repeat for up to 3 days to help to reduce swelling.
  • Compression: To reduce swelling and keep the joint stable, you may need to wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage. For more severe sprains, you may need an ankle brace or a cast.
  • Elevation: To reduce swelling, keep your ankle raised above your heart when you sit or lie down.

Your doctor may also suggest an oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. This relieves the pain and helps reduce swelling. Additional treatments such as bracing or even surgery may be considered if the sprain is severe. Serious sprains should be evaluated by a doctor as grade 2 and grade 3 sprains can lead to ankle instability if not properly addressed.

For a severe ankle sprain, healing may take 3 months or more, but with the proper rest and care, most ankle sprains are healed within 4 – 6 weeks.

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