How to Recover Quickly from an Ankle Sprain

Ernesto Luciano-Perez, MD, of Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists

Ernesto Luciano-Perez, MD, Medical Director of Bon Secours Sports Medicine

Ankle sprains are a stretch injury to the supporting structures of the ankle. They most commonly affect the ligaments on the outside of the ankle when the foot is turned inward. The ankle presents with localized pain and swelling. The spectrum of the injury can be from mild, which causes only slight pain, to severe, in which patients are unable to bear weight on the joint.

Initial treatment of an ankle sprain should consist of R.I.C.E. (Rest, ice, compression and elevation). Ice should be used for 20 minuets every hour. Medical attention is required when unable to bear weight.

Rehabilitation starts shortly after the injury, and incorporates three general areas:

  1. Range of Motion
    Once the swelling improves, a sufferer can begin range of motion exercises.
  2. Strengthening
    After most of the range of motion is restored, strengthening exercises are typically added to the rehabilitation program. These strengthening exercises typically use rubber bands to condition muscles.
  3. Balance
    Lastly, once mobility and strength are restored, it is important to work on balance. This can be done simply by standing on the injured leg with the other leg in the air.

The timing of exercises varies depending on the degree of the injury. A supervised program by your sports specialist in combination with a trained physical therapist will ensure that your return to sports is both speedy and safe.

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