Ligaments help stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement. They are fibrous, elastic bands of tissue that connect and stabilize the bones. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.
Ankle sprains may take from several weeks to several months to heal. Usually, the more pain and swelling you have, the more severe your ankle sprain is and the longer it will take to heal. It is very important to give your ankle time to heal completely, so that you do not easily hurt your ankle again.
Signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle vary depending on the severity of the injury. They may include:
- Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
- Tenderness when you touch the ankle
- Restricted range of motion
- Instability in the ankle
As soon as possible after an ankle sprain, you can relieve pain and swelling and promote healing and flexibility with RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Rest: Rest and protect the injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness. In more severe cases, you may need to use crutches until walking is not painful without them.
Ice: Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack right away to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts.
Compression: Compression, or wrapping the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage, will help decrease swelling. Wear it for the first 24 to 36 hours. Don’t wrap it too tightly, because this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight.
Elevation: Raise your ankle above the level of your heart for 2 to 3 hours a day if you