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How should my son treat his sprained ankle?

The acronym PRICE is your answer: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Protect and rest the area by having your son take a break from his sport for a few days. His body needs time to heal, and this healing is most efficient when he is not participating in his sport. Next, ice the injury at least three times per day, 20 minutes at a time, for the first three to five days. Use an ace wrap to compress the area to reduce swelling. Begin wrapping at the toes, with the wrap being tighter at the toes, and getting looser as you move up the leg. Make sure the compression wrap is snug but not too tight. Elevate the area above the heart several times as often as possible throughout the day to assist in the removal of swelling.

Once the swelling and pain have lessened, have your son move the ankle in pain-free directions to increase range of motion. The more he moves, the faster he will be back on the field of competition. Movement facilitates the removal of swelling and helps to build strength. Balancing is an important exercise in the rehabilitation of an ankle sprain. Have your son stand on his injured leg, with the knee slightly bent. Have him balance on one leg for 30 seconds. Once he is able to balance easily on level ground for 30 seconds, begin throwing a ball for him to catch while balancing or have him close his eyes. This balancing will help him in the future be able to correct motion that could result in an ankle sprain. Performing calf raises, walking on his heels and toes and stretching the Achilles tendon are all important exercises to incorporate into the rehabilitation as well.

Should any of these exercises cause more pain, seek medical attention from a physician to rule out a fracture. Once a fracture has been ruled out, the physician may also refer you to an appropriate healthcare provider, such as an athletic trainer, to assist you with a progressive rehabilitation program.

(This answer provided for NATA by the King College 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.