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How is an ankle sprain treated?

An ankle sprain should be treated with rest, elevation of the affected limb, ice packs and compression using an ACE bandage. Visit your family doctor before treating an ankle sprain to ensure that there is no fracture.
The best way to treat an ankle sprain is rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) for 4-6 days.
  • Resting gives your ankle time to heal from the injury. Walking or running on the injury too soon can impede the healing process. The amount of pain you feel when walking can guide the amount of time that is appropriate to rest.
  • Ice can be applied to the injury for 20 minutes as soon as the injury occurs. A general guideline that is followed with icing is 20 minutes on the injury and 20 minutes off the injury. Ice should help reduce bleeding and swelling in the area. 
  • Compression: The wrap should be tighter around the toes and looser toward the calf of the leg so that swelling is pushed out of the area. A compression wrap should not be worn while you are sleeping.
  • Elevating your ankle will help reduce swelling due to the laws of gravity. Sit with your leg straight at a level that is higher than your heart.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.