How To Treat A Sprained Ankle

sprained ankle

Misjudged the number of steps on the stairs? Decided, after years of inactivity, that now is the best time to get back into soccer? Or, maybe for whatever reason, you heard a ‘pop’ and now your ankle is the size and shape of a softball. If it hurts to walk and you can identify a cause, chances are you have a sprained ankle. If you’re wondering what you can do to treat and get yourself back to walking, dancing, or whatever it is people with ankles do, keep reading!

Sprain Vs. Strain

Before we get into treatment, let’s learn some vocabulary. Chances are you’ve heard of both ‘sprains’ and ‘strains’, and chances are you’ve heard people use them interchangeably, but they are different! Sprains are injuries to ligaments, which are fibrous bands of collagen that connect muscles to bones. Strains are injuries to tendons, which are fibrous bands of collagen that connect bone to bone.

Grades of Sprains

Not all sprains are made equal. There are different types, depending on the severity, of sprains:

  • Grade I: Stretched ligament or very minor tear.
  • Grade II: Greater injury but still incomplete tear.
  • Grade III: Completely torn ligament.

What Can You Do To Treat A Sprain?

Most sprains grade I and grade II can be treated at home. Even a serious grade III sprain can benefit from home treatment. At home, apply the treatment of RICE for 48-72 hours:

  • Rest; don’t move around on your sprained ankle.
  • Ice; apply an ice pack for 10-20 minutes three times a day.
  • Compression; wrap the ankle with a compression wrap to help alleviate the swelling.
  • Elevate; keep your leg raised to also help alleviate the swelling.

What To Do If A Sprained Ankle Doesn’t Get Better?

If it has been around 72 hours and the swelling has not gotten better, even with the RICE method and also over-the-counter pain relievers, it may be time to see a doctor. In fact, even before administering RICE at home, seeing a doctor is the best way to ensure the gradation of your sprain. At Go To Ortho, we’re the Go-To for ankle injuries and any other injury. We welcome walk-ins (and if you’ve sprained your ankle you should walk, not run!), but you can call ahead at 503-850-9950!


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