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An ankle sprain is one of the most common types of soft tissue injury.
It occurs when the foot is moved through a greater range of movement than normal. This stretches and weakens the soft tissues and ligaments that support the ankle.
The main symptoms are
If your doctor has prescribed painkillers, then these should be taken at the recommended dose. Non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs are usually prescribed but they are not suitable for everyone so please speak with your doctor before using them.
A cold pack (an ice pack or frozen peas wrapped in a damp towel) can also provide short-term pain relief. Apply to the sore area for up to 15 minutes, every few hours.
Try to rest the foot for the first 24-72 hours. However, it is important to maintain flexibility in the ankle so you can gently move it without causing too much pain. This will ensure your ankle does not become too stiff and it will help the healing process.
Raise your ankle above the level of your hips to reduce swelling. You can use pillows to keep the foot up.
Early movement and exercise
Early weight bearing (putting weight through your injured foot) has been shown to help your ankle heal more quickly. For this reason most people with an ankle sprain will not be given crutches.
In the first 48 hours after injury avoid the following as they might make your symptoms worse:
1. Point your foot up and down.
2. Make circles with your foot.
3. Place your foot on the floor. Rock your foot from side to side, lifting the inner and then outer border of your foot.
4. Sit with your leg straight out in front of you. Put a towel round your foot and pull it up towards you. Feel a stretch in the back of your calf.
Please note: These exercises should not increase your pain. Perform each exercise gently and slowly, only moving as far as feels comfortable. Practice each exercise up to ten times, at two or three times per day.
This leaflet is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: May 2018
Review Date: January 2023